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WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 



A MEMBER OF THE CAMEL CORPS 




WITH THE CAMEL CORPS 
UP THE NILE 



BY 



COUNT GLEICHEN 

t| 

LIEUT., GRENADIER GUARDS. 



Numerous Sfcetdje* iw tfje &utfjor. 



LONDON : CHAPMAN & HALL, 

LIMITED. 

1888. 
[All rights reserved.} 



CHARLES DICKENS AND EVANS, 
CRYSTAL PALACE PRESS. 



PREFACE. 



IN presenting the following pages to the public, I feel 
that a certain apology is due, for it is now over 
three years since the Nile Expedition took place 
(and most people have forgotten all about it), and 
several accounts of it, infinitely better and fuller than 
mine, have been published. 

To tell the truth, my story was about to see 
the light two years ago, and it was only owing to 
circumstances over which I had not much control 
that its appearance has been delayed till now. 

Another thing, this book does not profess to be 
anything more than what its title proclaims it to 
be, namely, a record of what the Camel Corps, and 

250547 



vi PREFACE, 

more especially the Guards' Camel Regiment, saw 
and did up the Nile in 1884-85. I have, therefore, 
not attempted to describe things I did not see, and 
have purposely avoided " cribbing" from other people's 
books on the same subject. 

Thirdly, I must crave the merciful indulgence 
of my readers for the pictures ; all I have to urge 
on their behalf is that they represent real incidents, 
for the original sketches were done out there. 

Lastly, I shall be most grateful if any one 
will point out to me any inaccuracies in the work, 
for my aim has been to present not a fanciful, but 
a true picture of what occurred. 

One thing more, the initials referring to officers 
of the G.C.R. are, in nearly every case, those of their 

nicknames, not their surnames. 

G. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

Formation of the Camel Corps Start from London- 
Alexandria Cairo Camp at the Pyramids Assiut . i 

CHAPTER II. 

From Assiut by steamer to Assouan Crocodile shooting 
Abu Simbl Wady Haifa Camels and camel equip- 
ment Weight carried ... . 14 

CHAPTER III. 

Land journey per camel to Dongola Camels, their habits 

and diseases . . 31 

CHAPTER IV. 

March to Dongola Ghosts in the desert Crossing the 

river Shabadud 42 



viii CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER V. 

PAGE 

Leave Shabadud Marketing at Abu Gussi Debbeh 

Ambukol Korti . .48 

CHAPTER VI. 
Life at Korti Diamonds and rubies The Marines arrive 

Rumours Christmas Day . 5 6 

CHAPTER VII. 

Korti to Gakdul Surveying on camel-back Night marching 
Abu Loolah and his family Abu Haifa and the 
Mahdists .... 67 

CHAPTER VIII. 
Arrival at Gakdul The wells Building forts A search for 

more wells 85 

CHAPTER IX. 

Return and advance of the column Details . . 101 

CHAPTER X. 

On the march again W and his camel Gebel es Sergain 

The enemy in sight . . . . . . .109 

CHAPTER XL 

Dispositions for attack Stone zeriba formed Night of the 

1 6th Officers shot 118 



CONTENTS. ix 

CHAPTER XII. 

PAGE 

Formation of the square Advance Sudden charge of the 

Arabs Action of Abu Klea Killed and wounded . 125 

CHAPTER XIII. 

The wells of Abu Klea A cold night Baggage and food 

at last Off again A terrible night-march . . . 139 

CHAPTER XIV. 

Formation of a zeriba Sir Herbert mortally wounded Seven 
hours under fire Advance of the square Action of 
Abu Kru The Nile at last 149 

CHAPTER XV. 
Back to the zeriba The whole force at last on the river-bank 161 

CHAPTER XVI. 

Reconnaissance in force round Metemmeh Gordon's steamers 

and troops arrive Building forts Sir C. Wilson's start 168 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Convoy sent back to Gakdul Wonderful cures Shaves 

Outpost duty, etc. Return of convoy . . . 177 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

The worst news possible Deliberations Convoy back to 

Gakdul On the march again 190 



CONTENTS. 
CHAPTER XIX. 



PAGE 



Gakdul again Kababish The return journey to Gubat 

All's well 200 



CHAPTER XX. 

Clearing out the wounded Gordon's blacks Attack on the 
wounded convoy Destruction of stores The end of 
the Relief Expedition 208 

CHAPTER XXI. 

Abu Klea camp again Retirement on Gakdul Death of Sir 
Herbert Stewart News of a Suakin railway and expe- 
dition 216 

CHAPTER XXII. 

Abu Haifa The camp Looking for water Habits of 

Soudanese cattle Robbers on the road . . .227 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

Once more to Gakdul A battle on the way back Leave 
Abu Haifa for good On the tramp Magaga Wells 
Korti .... 237 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

Prospects of an autumn campaign Orders to quit Down- 
stream in whalers Red spiders Dongola . . . 248 



CONTENTS. xi 

CHAPTER XXV. 

PAGE 

Life at Dongola Building straw huts The town The 

bazaar . . .... 258 

CHAPTER XXVI. 

Other amusements Ponies Dog-hunting Shooting 

D and his pelican Birds Fishing .... 267 

CHAPTER XXVII. 
Mails Post-office peculiarities Rumours Conflagrations . 274 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 

'The Lotus Boat-races Temple-digging Gymkhana meetings 

Panic among the natives Orders to quit . . .279 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

We leave Dongola Abu Fatmeh Krooboys Getting down- 
stream Egyptian athletics Wady Haifa . . . 288 

CHAPTER XXX. 

Down the river in dahabiehs Korosko Assouan Edfou 

Assiut Cairo A disappointment Alexandria Home .301 f 

Appendices . . . . . . . . . 309 




THE NILE FROM KHARTOUM DOWNWARDS. 

Scale, 220 miles to the inch. 



WITH THE CAMEL CORPS 
UP THE NILE. 



CHAPTER I. 

Formation of the Camel Corps Start from London Alexandria 
Cairo Camp at the Pyramids Assiut. 

ONE day in September, 1884, on coming off one of 
those numerous guards in Dublin that make a 
subaltern's life a burden to him, I found the joyful 
news awaiting me that I was to go out to the Soudan 
at once with the Camel Corps detachment of my 
battalion. 

As everybody knows, this sudden despatch of 
troops to the Nile was due to the Government having 
suddenly taken into its head the idea that it was 



2 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

necessary to rescue General Gordon from his perilous 
position at Khartoum, which he had held since the 
previous February. " Better late than never ; " ac- 
cordingly an expedition was equipped to proceed up 
the river, in pursuance of a determination which 
ought to have been carried out at least three months 
earlier. 

The idea had only recently been started that, in 
order to allow of troops acting with any success up 
the Nile, it was absolutely necessary that a certain 
proportion of them should be mounted on camels, 
both for facility of transport across the desert (if 
necessary) to Khartoum, and for rapidity of action. 
Accordingly a Camel Corps was organised, drawn half 
from the Cavalry and half from the Infantry. 

The Cavalry part was to be composed of detach- 
ments from all the Cavalry regiments in Great Britain 
at the time, subdivided into " Heavies" and "Lights;" 
the Infantry part of detachments from the Brigade of 
Guards and from the regiments already out in Egypt, 
these last to go by the name of (Camel) Mounted 
infantry. 



DETAILS. 3 

Each detachment was to consist of 2 officers, 
2 sergeants, 2 corporals, i bugler (or trumpeter), and 
38 men. The " Heavies" numbered 10 detachments, 
from the ist and 2nd Life Guards, Blues, Bays, 
4th and 5th Dragoon Guards, Royals, Scots Greys, 
5th and i6th Lancers : total, 23 officers and 431 men. 

The "Lights," from the 3rd, 4th, 7th, loth, nth, 
1 5th, 1 8th, 2Oth, and 2ist Hussars, numbered (9 de- 
tachments) 21 officers and 388 men. The Guards 
numbered 7 detachments, from the ist, 2nd, and 3rd 
battalions Grenadiers, ist and 2nd Coldstream, and ist 
and 2nd Scots Guards : total, 17 officers and 302 men. 
Each of these divisions, Heavies, Lights, and Guards, 
had (included above) a staff of Commanding Officer, 
Adjutant and Quartermaster, and Surgeon. The grand 
total that left England was therefore 61 officers and 
1 12 1 men. The men had all to be marksmen, or 
first-class shots, twenty-two years old at least, of 
course medically fit, and of as good character as 
possible. In fact, they were as good men as could be 
got anywhere, and a finer shipload than those on 
board the Deccan never left England. The Mounted 



B 2 



4 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Infantry, whom we were to join in Egypt, were 
somewhat differently constituted, and numbered al- 
together about 25 officers and 480 men.* 

Not much time was lost in getting our outfit, for 
the orders were to start in four days. Needless to 
say, this playful order was only meant to hurry the 
department up a bit that did the clothing and arming, 
and the " Guards' Camel Regiment" stood fully 
armed and accoutred four days before we actually 
started. 

As people remarked at the time, the men's cos- 
tume looked more like the seventeenth than the nine- 
teenth century, the bandoliers, breeches, and stocking- 
like putties giving them a look of the last Civil war. 
The men were clothed in red serge "jumpers" (or 
loose tunics), yellow-ochre cord breeches, dark blue 
putties (or leg-bandages), and white pith helmets. 
Their arms and accoutrements were rifle, sword- 
bayonet, bandolier (of brown leather worn over the 
left shoulder, and holding fifty cartridges), brown belt, 
pouch, frog and sling, haversack and water-bottle ; 

* See Appendix I. for names and details, 



DETAILS. 5 

also brown ankle-boots. That was what appeared 
outwardly. Inwardly, in their ordinary valise, were 
sundries in the shape of a grey serge jumper (always 
worn in Egypt), goggles, veil, drawers, cholera-belt, 
Prayer Book, housewife, spurs (which were never 
once used), spare pair of boots, shirts, socks, and 
all the usual paraphernalia of a man's kit. Officers 
were dressed much the same, except that they gene- 
rally wore long field-boots instead of putties ; their 
arms being, of course, sword and revolver, attached 
to a brown leather belt with shoulder-braces. I 
forgot to mention another peculiar article carried 
by the men, namely, a Namaqua rifle-bucket, for 
attaching to the saddle, the rifle being placed in it 
butt foremost. 

At length, after several alterations had been made 
as to the ships and dates we were to sail by, we 
found ourselves embarked at Portsmouth on the 
26th September in the P. and O. Deccan, together 
with the Heavies, some 130 stronger than ourselves. 
With the reader's leave we'll skip all the leave-takings 
and farewells, and consider ourselves started. 



6 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Of course everybody was cheerful the first day, 
and of course nearly everybody was ill the second, 
but this is only the usual fate of man. The men would 
look on it all as a big spree, and were quite aggrieved 
at first if you punished them for " small reports." 
However, finding that the officers didn't see it in the 
same light as themselves, they wisely accepted their 
fate, and discipline like that of a barracks reigned 
in the ship. 

Being sick and getting over it occupied three 
days, but after that there was next to nothing to do, 
beyond shooting. The beneficent Government had 
given us sixty rounds per man, to shoot off before we 
reached Alexandria, but had forgotten to supply 
us with targets. We accordingly shot everything 
shootable to pieces, straw targets, old floating boxes, 
bottles free, bottles tied, and bottles astern, till we 
were reduced to shooting paper, and finally foam, or 
an occasional whale or porpoise. The Heavies and 
ourselves being dressed alike, we amused ourselves by 
cutting out red cloth badges and letters to distinguish 
the various corps, such as: iGG (ist Grenadiers-), 



ALEXANDRIA. 7 

RHG (Blues), 5L (5th Lancers), and so on ; these 
were sewn on the right arm. 

Our evenings were enlivened by concerts of all 
sorts, but no incident worthy of remark occurred till 
we were passing Malta, and signalled for the latest 
news. " Defend cook gone Cairo," was all we got, 
and this unravelled meant seemingly : " Guards' cook," 
etc., referring to a Mai tee who had been wired for 
to act in that capacity. There was no word " Guards " 
in the signal code, so they used the nearest approach 
to it. No further news of any sort did we get till 
we reached Alexandria harbour on the 7th October, 
early, when the first report was that we were pro- 
bably to go back to England in two days, as the 
Mahdi and all his sheikhs had caved in ! The 
whole battalion, however, while awaiting definite 
orders, went ashore to stretch their legs for a march 
round the town, and there we first met our future 
steeds, sloping along under their loads of corn and 
stuffs. 

They looked rather meagre beasts to carry us, 
but we^ were consoled by " one who knew " telling 



8 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

us that riding camels were entirely superior to that 
sort of animal. 

Every one knows or has read what Alexandria 
looks like, so I will only remark that it is exactly like 

^ 



^" 1 '" 




FIRST VIEW OF OUR FUTURE STEEDS. 



what you expect to see, but not so hot and a good 
deal cleaner. 

On returning to harbour we found the Canadian 
voyageurs had arrived. As two had deserted before 
starting, and they were an undisciplined lot, we 
"found" a small guard over them. This, however, 



CANADIAN VOYAGEURS. 9 

turned out to be quite unnecessary, as they were in 
high spirits and had no evil intentions whatever of 
bolting. Their clothes did not seem suited to the 
climate, being thick grey tweed and black shiny hats, 
but they were served out with helmets as soon as 
practicable. Many of them were Indians, a few 
only spoke French, and a good many had never 
been in a boat before, being bankers' clerks, store- 
keepers, cow-boys, anything even old soldiers who 
had been out in '82, and come back to see if the 
country had changed. Whatever their previous 
characters or situations had been, there was no 
doubt they were in high glee at their outing, and 
ixious to get up to the front as soon as possible. 

The fact of the Canadians being sent up river 
it once went far to destroy the dismal report of our 
laving to go back immediately, and, as it proved, 
-e were disembarked next morning, in our grey 
14 jumpers" (which we wore ever after), and packed 
>ff to the Red Barracks for the day, to start for 
'airo that evening. The first companies of the 
.eavies and ourselves were sent off as advanced 



io WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

party, train to start at six. Eventually the train 
moved slowly out of the station at 8.15, and 
we dawdled along till about midnight, when we 
were shunted to make way for a train behind us ; 
we sleepily looked at the passing train, and beheld 
the rest of the battalion ! They got to Cairo two 
hours before us, we not arriving till 8.30 ; over 
twelve hours going 120 miles! We found the G.C.R. 
(Guards' Camel Regiment) quartered in the Kasr 
en Nil, a formerly beautiful palace, belonging to 
Arabi, but which had since been turned into 
barracks for the 49th (Berkshire). 

The next report was that there wouldn't be room 
for us in Cairo, and we were to remain at the Pyramids 
under canvas for the next week or so. Accordingly we 
packed up again, and started early next morning (the 
loth) to march there. It was rather warm work, and 
tantalising too. Between the Pyramids and the 
town is a large area of low-lying ground, covered 
with water in the time of high Nile (just when we 
were there) ; across this runs a causeway, bordered 
with sycamores, straight on end for nearly five miles, 



TO THE PYRAMIDS. 11 

the Pyramids at the end of it. The air is so clear 
that the Pyramids seem not a mile off, yet you 
walk, and walk, and walk, and seem to get no nearer. 




ROAD TO THE PYRAMIDS. 



At last we got there, and proceeded to pitch our 
camp of Indian mountain service tents. The sand 
was loose and deep the pegs would not hold ; puff 
came a little wind, up went the pegs, and over went 
the tent. The only way was to scrape away a hole 
bury the pegs in that, and stamp down the sand if 
possible. Flies in myriads, hot sun, baggage to haul 
over this infernal sand up to the axle-trees. No 
matter ; we shook down quickly, and dinner restored 



12 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

our equanimity. There we remained for a week, 
heliographing to Cairo for " shaves," which arrived 
in great variety, and exploring the Pyramids and 
temples in the neighbourhood. The Heavies were 




MORNING TOILET AT THE PYRAMIDS. 



quartered with us at the Pyramids, and, much to our 
envy, received their marching orders on the I3th. 

At length we got the order to move, and moved, 
on the 1 6th, from the Boulak Dacrour Station by 
night to Assiut. The heat was something appalling, 
and not a chink could we open of any sort ; for then 



IN THE TRAIN TO ASSIUT. 13 

we were suffocated with the dust that rose in clouds 
round the train : the Black Hole must have been a 
joke to it. There were only three of us in a third- 
class carriage, so two tried to sleep on the seats, 
while the third reposed on the floor ; the latter was 
occasionally disturbed by one of the upper occupants 
falling on top of him, so at last we gave up attempting 
to sleep, and wished for the day. It came at last, and 
we arrived about nine o'clock at Assiut, where the 
railway ended. We therefore proceeded to detrain, 
and embarked the men on two barges, which were 
lashed together, and towed by a sort of penny 
steamer ; this latter the officers inhabited. 



CHAPTER II. 

From Assiut by steamer to Assouan Crocodile shooting 
Abu Simbl Wady Haifa Camels and camel equipment Weight 
carried. 

I HAD been led to expect beautiful scenery on the 
Nile, but anything more uninteresting I never saw. 
The river was much broader and infinitely dirtier 
than I could have thought ; in fact, if you let the 
water in your bath lie for two minutes, there was a 
thick deposit of mud at once. 

All along the banks were unending forests of 
dhurra corn, beans, cotton, and all sorts of native 
grain ; no coffee, no sugar, and no tobacco, which 
sadly disappointed me, as I was looking forward to 
unlimited supplies of these articles for daily consump- 
tion. Mud liquid, soft, and hard and green crops, 
with distant views of very hot-looking blue and pink 
rocks were our daily landscape for eleven days, the 



BARGAINING WITH THE NATIVES. 15 

monotony being occasionally varied by palms and 
mud villages. At night we anchored off either bank, 
as the captain refused to go on in the dark, for 
fear of mud-banks. 

Our chief amusement was going on shore in the 
evenings, and buying chickens, eggs, vegetables, and 
milk. The average price was melon, one piastre 
(2%d.) ; eggs, ten a piastre ; turkey, half-a-crown ; 
and goose, eighteenpence. 

Before long we formulated these rules, and it 
was only by sticking rigidly to them that we managed 
to get things moderately cheap : 

1. Always bring a koorbash or a stick with you. 

2. Bargain in the dark, so as to pass off your 
bad piastres. 

J3. Always get the article desired into your pos- 
ssion before you attempt to haggle. 

4. Offer never more than half what they ask, 
and go away if you do not get it at your price ; 
they will then follow you and conform to your 
wishes. 

The day before getting to Assouan we passed a 



16 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

disabled steamer and two barges, on which were 
the " Lights." We sympathised outwardly with them, 
but inwardly were much pleased that they had broken 
their crank, as that meant we should probably take 
their place, and be first to go up country. 

And so it turned out. On arriving at Assouan, 
on the 28th, we found orders for the three first 
companies* to go on, by the first steamer available, 
to Wady Haifa, there to receive our camels and 
equipments, and proceed up to Dongola. As we 
were not to start till next day, two or three of us 
strolled into the town, which was much like all the 
other towns we had passed, only larger and some- 
what more unsweet, and then went to see a troop 
of the Egyptian Camel Corps go through their 
evolutions. What struck us most was the extreme 
ease with which the beasts were guided only some 
half-dozen having nose-reins. They advanced in 
companies, wheeled into line, sections right, front 
formed, in fact, did everything they had to do with 
the greatest precision, and even proceeded to skirmish. 
* I.e. ist Grenadiers, ist Coldstream, and ist Scots. 



PHILAE. 17 

If Egyptians do their manoeuvres so well, said we, 
what won't the ''Brigade" do? 

Next day we trained to Philae, about seven miles 
round the first cataract, and went on board our 
steamer. Though the country, so far, had been the 
reverse of lovely, the view from Shellal, the head 
of the cataract, looking down stream with the island 
and ruined temples of Philae in the foreground, was 
quite beautiful ; the towering gates of the big temple, 
:he graceful pillars of the little one overhanging the 
baming water some eighty feet sheer, with the cataract 
tearing between the wild black rocks in the back- 
ground, formed the most beautiful piece of scenery 
we had yet seen on the river. By moonlight it 
was still prettier. 

The steamer we found ourselves on was much 
arger than the last ; in fact, it was the Khedive's 
own, and towed, besides the two large barges for our 
men, some twenty whalers, wherein were stowed part 
of the 56th (Essex). Nothing much occurred worthy 
of remark during this voyage, except the shooting 
of a large crocodile by one of us. 



1 8 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

It was on a hot Sunday afternoon, when, on 
turning a bend in the river, not far from the wonderfu 
temple of Abu Simbl, the Arab in the bows shouted 
that there was a big crocodile asleep on a mud-bank 

in the middle of the river. B accordingly got his 

rifle, and, as the awakening brute slid lazily into 
the water, plumbed him under the right shoulder at 
a distance of quite 130 yards a first-rate shot. The 
beast stopped at the water's edge, and began to 
lash his flaily tail about. By this time the excite- 
ment amongst the sailors was immense ; the sporting 
old captain stopped the steamer, a boat was manned, 
and we pulled off to the bank, I having charge of 
the rifle wherewith to finish him. He was already 
half in the water, and the difficulty was to get his 
head out, to let me have a fair shot at his eye 
which, I had learnt in my youthful days, was his 
only vulnerable point. The boat-hook was the only 
instrument to haul him back by, so half-a-dozen 
niggers manned it, hooked it into a corner of his 
jaw, and tugged his great head round for the coup 
de grace. Even with a second bullet in the place 




C 2 



20 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

where his brain ought to have been, he had life 
enough to snap at the boat-hook with such force 
as to leave marks of his teeth on the iron head. 
A third shot close under the eye finished him, and 
with much labour he was hoisted into the boat, and 
from thence on to the steamer. On measuring him, 
he was found to be a couple of inches under thirteen 
feet a real monster. When we halted for good 
that evening, the carcase was skinned and devoured 
(entrails and all) by some natives from a neighbouring 

village. B took possession of the hide, and put it 

on the paddle-box to dry in the sun. When the 
wind was ahead the stench was really grand, and 
drove us off the after-deck. 

That same evening we resolved to go and have a 
look at Abu Simbl, which lay about a mile and a 
half down stream. We pulled down easily enough 
in an unloaded whaler, and landed at once. Though 
we had caught a glimpse of the temple from the 
steamer, its full grandeur did not strike us till we had 
got close up to it. The peculiarity of it is that the 



ABU SIMBL. 21 

whole thing is cut out of the solid limestone rock, with 
a doorway only some 8 feet broad by 15 high. 
The interior dimensions are about 90 by 50, by 45 
feet high, the walls and ceiling covered with hiero- 
glyphics. Guarding the entrance are four colossal 
seated figures (also cut out of the rock), representing 
Rameses II. As each figure if standing up would 
measure over 60 feet high, the immense and solid 
grandeur of the whole can be imagined. After 
gazing at the interior with the help of a small piece of 
magnesium light (which only lasted three and a half 
seconds), we tore ourselves away and tried to pull 
back up stream. I say " tried," for after a quarter 
of an hour's hard pulling against a fearful current, 
we found ourselves some yards further down stream 

lan when we started. If eight men pulling an empty 
boat proceed minus three yards in fifteen minutes, 

low long would it take ten men to pull up the Nile 
in a boat loaded to the gunwale with stores and 

len ? Such was the rule-of-three sum 'that presented 

:self. We had ignominiously, therefore, to disembark 



22 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

and tow from the shore, and eventually arrived at 
the steamer very late for dinner. 

The following day we arrived at Wady Haifa, 
having done the distance from Assouan (180 miles) 
in four days. 

Wady Haifa, though marked on all maps as a 
town, is really nothing of the sort. There are (or 
rather were, when we arrived) ten or twelve mud 
hovels, but besides these there are none but buildings 
connected with the railway, which starts from here 
and at that time finished thirty-five miles off, somewhere 
n the desert. This is the identical railway begun 
by Ismail on the right bank of the river, and intended 
to communicate with Khartoum. Would that Gordon 
had not put a stop to this magnificent enterprise, 
as he did when he was Governor of the Soudan, in 
'79 ! If it had only been continued as far as Dongola, 
what a different ending there would have been to 
the expedition ! Wady Haifa to Dongola that 
was the chief natural obstacle the river difficult of 
navigation, and making an unnecessarily large bend 
(in fact, three sides of a square instead of straigh 



WADY HALF A. 23 

across) ; besides this, two formidable cataracts and 
many other smaller ones. The land journey on 
camels was also very tedious, taking eleven days 
or more to do the 235 miles, whereas a railway 
would have shot troops and stores across in a couple 
of days at the outside. It was a great pity. 

The first few days at Wady Haifa we spent in 
pitching our camp, drilling on foot a la Mounted 
Infantry (all by sections), taking over equipments and 
saddles, mending and strengthening ditto, and lastly 
taking over our camels. There were two patterns 
of saddles, one the knifeboard, and the other the 
Mounted Infantry pattern. The authorities couldn't 
make up their minds which to serve us out with, so 
after issuing and recalling the saddles two or three 
times, they compromised matters by giving the men 
the knifeboard, and the officers the other pattern. 
The knifeboard pattern is constructed thus : Imagine 
framework composed of two wooden frames 
ibout 24 in. by 15, transversely strengthened, and 
ished together along one long side so as to 
>rm an angle of 60 with each other. No ; it 



24 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

is hopeless to try to describe it, it looks like 
this : 





KNIFEBOARD PATTERN. MOUNTED INFANTRY PATTERN. 

The M.I. pattern is much the same, only stronger 
and heavier, and the seat pear-shaped, made of iron. 
Under the framework are two cushions, so stuffed as 
to make room for the hump of the camel. Over the 
framework are hung the girths, stirrups, and a pair of 
saddle-bags, or " zuleetahs," of canvas and red leather, 
which amply contain all your kit ; on the near side is 
strapped a rolled blanket and waterproof sheet, on the 
off a tente d'abri to every two men. The Namaqua 
rifle-bucket is attached to the off rear side of the 
framework, and secured by passing the long strap 
under the belly of the animal, over the two girths, and 
buckling it on the near side to a buckle nailed on for 
the purpose. On the after pommel is hung the 
leather water-skin, or "gerbah" (of which more here- 



CAMEL EQUIPMENT. 25 

after), with sometimes an apron of thin leather below, 
to keep it off the quarters of the camel, or above, to 
protect it from the sun, and the Egyptian water-bottle 
or " mussek," a long stiff leather bottle, which, unless 
it lets it all leak out in half-an-hour, makes the water 
beautifully cool. On the fore pommel hangs the 
camel's rations for three days, thirty pounds of corn. 
Over the saddle-bags are placed the second blanket, 
and over everything comes a padded red leather 
saddle cover, on top of which the rider is perched. 
Such is a camel-saddle and equipment.* 

The knifeboard framework was made of thin 
pieces of unseasoned wood, which we had to lash with 
wire ; the girths and straps were fearfully rotten, and 
were only kept going by a liberal application of grease ; 
whilst the water-skins and musseks were heart- 
breaking, letting out the water nearly as soon as filled. 
We were told they would swell when wet, and thus 
close up the pores, and in some cases they did, though 
in others they were holey ; generally as soon as one 
hole was sewn up, another would open, and the water 
would trickle steadily out ; it also escaped invisibly, I 
* See Appendix II. 



26 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

suppose through evaporation. What would happen if 
we had to depend on them for our lives, we didn't 
know, but didn't trouble our heads about it, thinking 
we should stick to the Nile most of the way. 

The equipment ready, the next step was to get our 
camels, which were visible about a mile off, at the 
camel depot. The sight was an extraordinary one : 
rows upon rows upon rows of camels, baggagers and 
hygeems (riding camels), of every size, colour, and de- 
scription, from the enormous heavy rhinoceros-skinned 
transport beast to the small well-bred trotter, only used 
for posting and despatches. They came from all parts, 
the Delta, Aden, Kosseir, Dongola, and even from 
Arabia. These last were few and far between, being 
chosen for their swiftness, and consequently very 
valuable. Their pace is so smooth, that the test at 
the Meccan Tattersall's is for the rider to carry a full 
cup of coffee at full trot ; if he spills any, it is 
considered that the animal is underbred. The Delta 
camels were the weakest, though not the smallest, 
whilst the steeds selected for us came mostly from the 
parts round about. They were a nice-looking set of 



OUR CAMELS. 27 

beasts, and we were of course very particular to have 
the pick of the lot ; sore-backed ones were exchanged, 
and camel after camel sent back for (sometimes 
imaginary) weaknesses, till the officer in charge 
vowed he'd exchange no more. 

The next thing was to fit the saddles, and much 
trouble ensued, as no two camels are humped exactly 
alike ; that done, we mounted our beasts with some 
difficulty, and manoeuvred a bit in line, the camels 
acting as if they had never done anything else all their 
lives. Their headgear was simple, a black leather 
headstall, the rein being a rope about seven feet long, 
attached to an iron curb-chain under the lower lip, no 
part of the headgear in the mouth ; by this, passing 
on the left side of the neck, you could pull him to 
the left, or press it against his neck, making him go 
to the right ; it also served as a rope for tethering or 
knee-lashing him.* 

The men were highly delighted with their first 

* I.e. tying his near foreleg (bent) to his neck when kneeling. 
mble knee-lashing is accomplished by tying his neck to both 
>relegs when in the same position, thus making him quite helpless 
>t so easy as it sounds, especially with a restless animal 



28 



WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 



mount, and proceeded to trot and canter their steeds 
all over the plain, although a camel's anatomy is not 
constructed for the purpose of cantering ; many were 
the croppers they came, especially when getting up, 
v but it only made them the keener. Mounting a frisky 




A BOLTER. 



c .mel is exciting work for the beginner, and nearly 
aiways results in a cropper. The mode of procedure 
si puld be thus : having made your camel to kneel by 
clearing your throat loudly at him and tugging at his 
rope, shorten your rein till you bring his head round 
to his shoulder, put your foot in the stirrup, and throw 



HOW TO GET UP. 29 

your leg over. With his head jammed like that, he 
cannot rise, and must wait till you give him his head. 
Unless you do as directed, he will get up before your 
leg is over ; if this happens, stand in the stirrup till he 
is up, and then throw your leg over, otherwise you will 
infallibly meet with a hideous catastrophe. We found 
that with the rifle in the bucket it was impossible to get 
one's leg over, so always made the men pass the sling 
of the rifle over their left wrists before getting on. 
After a time we found it easier to stand alongside and 
give a big heave of the right leg over the saddle 
without touching the near stirrup at all. So much for 
mounting; dismounting is, of course, the same reversed. 
We had the fact repeatedly impressed on us that 
we were not to be used as cavalry at all, that we were 
never to fight on our camels, and in fact that they 
were only to be used as means of rapid transport 
from one place to another. Accordingly, we did rot 
tire our beasts by trotting for long distances. Although 
they could carry a native so for a long time, it was 
different when they had on their back a thirteen stone 
man, with all his kit and paraphernalia, and their own 



3 o WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

rations besides. The average weight must have been 
about 3/1 o lb., distributed as under : 

Man 165 lb. 

120 Rounds. . . . 12 

Rifle, etc 9 

Forage. . 30 

Kit . 30 

Rations . . . . 6 

Water 40 

Blankets, etc. . . .20 

Saddle 30 

Total . . 342 lb. 

The first thing to do when we had learnt to stick 
on the camels, was obviously to learn how to use them ; 
but the system of drill was not perfected till some time 
after, every colonel or general under whose command 
we came having different ideas on the subject. So 
meanwhile we studied Mounted Infantry Drill, which 
subsequently we had all to unlearn again, as the idea 
in that drill is for one man to hold four horses, whilst 
the three remaining men of his section skirmish 
around ; this was, we subsequently found, although not 
impossible, quite inapplicable to our particular steeds, 
and accordingly left it off after a short time, waiting 
for the issue of a regulation " Camel Drill." 



CHAPTER III. 

Land journey per camel to Dongola Camels, their habits and 

diseases. 

AT length, on the i2th November, we got our orders 
to proceed the next morning to Dongola (235 miles) 
per camel-back, and started accordingly. Of the other 
four companies of the G.C.R. that we had left at 
Assouan, two (the 2nd Grenadiers and 2nd Cold- 
stream detachments) received their camels there, and 
were marching up, and the other two were to follow 
by steamer to Wady Haifa, receive their camels there, 
and all come on together. Both the Heavy and the 
Light Camel Corps were still at Assouan, waiting for 
their camels. We heard a rumour that the only reason 
why we were sent up first was, because the only 
saddles yet ready were the light knifeboard pattern, 
which was too light for the Heavies. The Lights 



32 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

had not turned up at Assouan as soon as was 
expected, owing to their broken crank, so accordingly 
we were sent. How far this report was true I never 
inquired. 

Besides our three companies starting from Wady 
Haifa, we had a small train of baggage camels, a 
section of the Field Hospital, under a first-rate doctor 
(Briggs the same who afterwards attended poor 
Sir Herbert), and a few extras in the shape of 
Commissariat and Transport men. 

At last we felt something like " business," and 
bade adieu with no regrets to civilisation in the shape 
of steamers and railways. Our road lay more or 
less along the Nile the whole way, the detachment 
encamping on the river at night, at settled stations, 
and making an average of twenty miles during the 
day. As one day was very much like another, I 
will only describe the usual mode of procedure. 
Starting at five or six in the morning, according to 
the distance to be done, we walked, dragging our 
camels after us, for four or five miles in the cool of 
the morning. When the sun got hot (which it did 



ON THE MARCH. 33 

unpleasantly soon) we mounted and rode, with only 
half-an-hour's interval at noon, straight on end for 
eight or nine hours. Walking like this is most 
fearfully monotonous, and it's no use hurrying the 
camel up ; he simply wont hurry. On he goes at 
his two-and-three-quarter miles an hour pace, with 
sickening regularity ; and beyond keeping the men 
in their proper places there is absolutely nothing 
whatever to do. I tried reading, I tried writing no 
good ; the only thing in which I met with any success 
was going to sleep. After a time we all trained 
ourselves to sleep in the saddle for short periods 
generally very short, as we fell off at the slightest 
irregularity of pace. However, any excitement was 
better than nodding in the hot sun for hours, only 
rousing yourself to abuse your camel for not going 
faster, and your men for not keeping together. We 
adopted all sorts of formation on the march, according 
to the ground we came to : column of companies, 
fours, two deep, or even single file over some of the 
rocky passes. 

The word "desert" presented to my mind's eye 



ON THE MARCH. 35 

an " illimitable waste of burning sand, with neither 
rock nor tree whereon to rest the weary eye." But 
not once the whole time I was out did I see anything 
answering to that description. Generally speaking, 
the desert was composed of low, rocky black hills and 
hard gravel, with occasional dried-up tufts of long 
grass and low dry scrub of all sorts. Sometimes the 
ground was so mountainous that we had to dismount 
and lead our camels, but on emerging on to a " khor " 
(or dried-up watercourse, one or two miles broad / 
should call it a plain) the ground was generally hard 
sand, often gravelly, and always good walking. 

On the stony places I really pitied the podgy, soft- 
looking feet of the camels, but they knocked their 
toes against the sharp stones with the greatest un- 
concern. I also once had practical experience that 
their feet are not soft, by a violent kick I received 
from the hind-leg of a camel, who thought himself 
insulted by my examining his head-stall in the dark. 
A camel's hind-legs will reach anywhere over his 
head, round his chest, and on to his hump ; even 
when lying down, an evil-disposed animal will shoot 



D 2 



36 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

out his legs, and bring you to a sitting posture. His 
neck is of the same pliancy. He will chew the root 
of his tail, nip you in the calf, or lay the top of his 

head on his 
hump. He also 
bellows and 
roars at you, 
whatever you 
are d o i n g 
saddling him, 
feeding him, 
mounting him, 
unsaddling him. 
To the unin- 
itiated, a camel 
going for one 
with his mouth 
open and gurg- 
ling horribly is a terrifying spectacle ; but do not 
mind him, it is only his way. He hardly ever bites, 
but when he does you feel it for some time ; as a 
matter of fact we only once had a man laid up from 




"GET UP, YOU BRUTE.' 



CAMELS THEIR POWERS. 37 

a bite in the hand, but he had to go into hospital for 
it. I heard of one or two men having a leg broken 
from a kick at various times, but it was the exception, 
and not the rule, for a camel is really a very docile 
animal, and learns to behave himself in the most 
trying positions with equanimity, though I fear it is 
only the result of want of brains. 

Regarding his wonderful powers of endurance, I 

was told of journeys made across country from 

Dongola to Alexandria (950 miles) in eight days ; 

of his marvellous powers of going for forty days 

running ; of trotting 200 miles without a halt ; of 

his going fifteen days without water, etc. My 

experience is that he gets a sore back after four 

days, or less ; does not go comfortably for more 

than five consecutive days, and as for trotting, it 

was only by a vigorous application of the koorbash 

that I could succeed in making mine go that pace 

for more than fifty yards at a time. I own that, 

though my first impressions of a camel's powers were 

thus bad, and I do not now believe in those wonderful 

tales told me by wily natives, yet the beast rose 



38 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

wonderfully in my estimation some time afterwards, 
when we were in the thick of " real business " in 
the Bayuda Desert, on seeing the patient way in 
which our poor camels walked on and on, with no 
food or water whatever inside them, till they dropped 
dead in their tracks ; but of that hereafter. 

I cherished a great affection for my own camel, 
named Potiphar, a great upstanding white beast of 
some 22 hands, who reciprocated it by bellow- 
ing every time I came near, and making playful 
rushes at me. I really think I succeeded in 
making him know and care for me after a time, 
for he ceased his attacks, and reduced his bellow 
to a grumble ; but he got no further in his love 
than that. His pace was usually very slow, and 
required continual whacking, but when excited he 
walked away from the others ; his trot was not one 
of his good points in fact, his chief talent lay in 
doing more work and breaking down less than any 
of the others. He carried me from Wady Haifa 
to Metammeh, and back to Gakdul, making two 
extra journeys from Gubat to Gakdul and back, 



FLAG-WAGGING. 39 

and one from Gakdul to Korti and back grand 
total about 1220 miles, not counting extras. During 
the whole time he only had a sore back three times ; 
but I must say when I saw him last the poor beast 
had holes in his side you could put a cocoanut in. 

This long digression about the habits of camels 
has led us from the point ; let us return. Another 
mode of employing ourselves was by flag-wagging 
to each other. We had learnt the signalling alphabet, 
and one of us sitting backwards on his camel sent 
messages with primitive flags to the others at the 
rear of the column. The camel of the signaller never 
objected to the proceedings, even when his rider 
was sitting backwards. In the latter case he was 
generally led by a certain youthful nigger from 
Darfur, a slave who had escaped from his masters 
at Wady Haifa and joined us. One morning his 
enraged owners overtook us, and claimed him ; how- 
ever, our commanding officer, R , made a mag- 
nificent speech about there being no slavery under 
the British flag, sent the Arabs to the right-about, 
and took possession of the boy himself, who became 



40 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

forthwith his devoted servant, or, perhaps I should 
say, his slave. 

When we arrived at our halting-place we used 
to form column of companies, dismounting by word 
of command, and tether our steeds to a long cable 
rope brought with us for the purpose. The men 
then fed the camels, took their saddles off when 
cool, cooked and ate their own dinner, and watered 
the camels at the river every other day. Five 
pounds of grain was our steeds' allowance at the 
evening meal, the other five pounds being given 
them in the early morning, half-an-hour before start- 
ing. Great care had to be taken with the camels, 
as they are really delicate animals, and had all sorts 
of unknown ailments if carelessly looked after. When 
taken down to the river, some camels would look 
aimlessly about, exhausting the patience of the man 
by not drinking for ten minutes, or more, and some- 
times not drinking at all if the least jostled. They 
used to get colds in their noses, too, at night, 
especially the flank ones ; sometimes they caught 
cold if the saddles were removed too soon ; some- 



HABITS OF CAMELS. 41 

times, also, they fought in the lines, and got their 
ropes into fearful confusion. They used to break 
away at times, and wander all over the lines, causing 
great sorrow to their riders, who came to seek them, 
and they were not. Besides this, on the march a 
camel would occasionally go slower and slower, and 
at last kneel down without warning, refusing to get 
up ; no examination would discover the seat of the 
sickness or injury (if any), so he was whacked till 
he did go on. Altogether they were a sad trouble. 



CHAPTER IV. 

March to Dongola Ghosts in the desert Crossing the river 

Shabadud. 

SOME days we went for more than thirty miles, at 
other times not more than twelve ; but both men 
and animals were grateful for an occasional day's 
rest vouchsafed unto them. After a time one gets 
pains in the back and loins from perpetual riding ; 
speaking for myself, I found I got very slack in 
the legs on dismounting, and could not sleep at all 
well, camels playing a large part in my frequent 
nightmares. This condition of affairs, though, luckily, 
did not last more than a week. 

As I remarked before, the country was chiefly 
rocky and gravelly, our road leading from point to point 
on the river, generally straight across country. Some- 
times the glimpses of the Nile were excessively pretty, 
sometimes uninteresting in the extreme. Although 
we hardly ever came across real deep sandy ground, 



ME HE MET EFFENDL 43 

we were given ample assurance that the " illimitable 
waste" business does exist in some parts of the 
continent. We had a capital little interpreter, 
Mehemet Effendi, who had travelled over most of 
the Soudan, and some of his stories of the desert 
were thrilling very. I particularly remember his 
describing to us the desert between Korosko and 
Abu Hamed, which he said was ankle-deep in loose 
sand the whole way (230 miles). It is the desert 
where Mehemet Ali lost a whole army from thirst, 
and their ghosts are supposed to haunt it ; at all 
events, our friend swore that the last time he journeyed 
across he was disturbed at night by ghostly trumpet- 
calls from the desert, mingled with faint words of 
command and the tramp of phantom feet. 

He was a well-educated man, having been brought 
up in Marseilles and lived in Italy for some time ; 
he was therefore not generally liable to his country- 
men's superstitions, in fact, he owned he never 
believed in djins or spirits before ; but he was per- 
fectly certain that over and over again he saw 
white-coated columns in the distance, disappearing 



44 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

to the accompaniment of the ghostly music aforesaid 
This happened just in the region where their bones 
are now covered with the shifting sands ! 

Let me remark by the way that it is rash for an 
Upper Nile traveller to trust to the names of villages 
marked on the most official maps ; I did, and with no 
result, for the natives knew not the names. Eventually 
I discovered that the names vary from one generation 
to another. It happens thus : there are no real 
villages at all, only districts full of isolated or clustered 
huts scattered here and there along the banks ; the 
head man of the district calls it after himself, where- 
fore the name only lasts till he dies and the next 
man gets it. For instance, there is a village marked 
as Ras Dulgo, whereas Ras Dulgo is a district eight 
miles long. Again, we one day asked the way to 
Absarat ; no one knew, as Absarat's grandson reigned 
in his stead, and had forgotten the name of his 
grandfather. Yet again, we asked the way to Faridi, 
and the gentleman himself was pointed out to us ! 

Eventually we arrived opposite Dongola on the 
26th November, having been exactly a fortnight 
on the march, two days of which had been spent 



DONGOLA. 45 

in resting at places called respectively Akasheh and 
Abu Fatmeh ; our rate therefore averaged just twenty 
miles a day. Dongola is a big mud town on the 
left bank of the river, with, as every one knows, a 
Mudir, a barracks, and a post-office, and, at that time 
(lastly, but by no means leastly), Lord Wolseley. Many 
people seem not to have known which Dongola this 
was, as on all the maps were marked two Dongolas 
Old and New ; for their information, therefore, I beg 
to state that it was the latter. Old Dongola is no more 
a town than, say, Old Sarakhs in Afghanistan ; it is a 
collection of ruins on the opposite (right) bank of 
the river, some sixty or seventy miles up stream, and 
has nothing whatever to do with the other Dongola : 
in fact, the sheikh of Old Dongola didn't know his 
ruins by that name at all. 

Our orders from Wady Haifa were to cross the 
river at Dongola, and probably stay there to wait 
for the rest of the Camel Corps ; but, on rowing 
over to the town, our commanding officer received 
orders not to cross for some twenty miles further. 
The reason of this was that small-pox had broken 
out in the town, and had laid low several of the 



46 J^/TTf THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Mounted Infantry and the 35th (Sussex). Accord- 
ingly next day, after having been inspected by the 
General, we proceeded to our crossing-place, which 
rejoiced in the name of Akhir. 

A worse place for crossing could hardly have been 
chosen ; the banks on one side were steep and sandy, 
on the other muddy and slippery. However, with 
much difficulty, we induced our camels to slither down 
the bank and into the " nuggers " ready to receive 
them. These nuggers were the ordinary boats used 
in those parts ; very solid, one-masted, and generally 
equal to holding five camels. We were luckily 
favoured by the wind, and got all our camels (about 
170) over in six hours or so. Next day saw us en 
route for the camp at Shabadud, some twenty miles 
further on ; and much pleased were we to arrive 
there. 

The Mounted Infantry part of the Camel Corps 
had arrived some four days before, and got the camp 
ready for Sir Herbert Stewart's brigade to collect in 
before starting up stream. The Brigadier-General 
was already there, and only waiting for the rest of 
the G.C.R. in order to practise a little drill, and then 



SHABADUD. 47 

advance as far as Ambukol, the point settled by the 
Commander-in-Chief for concentration. 

After repeated trials, the system of Camel Drill 
had been more or less perfected by Sir Herbert, and 
we proceeded to learn it at once. Our other four 
companies turned up on the 4th December, and for 
the next five days we were hard at it. The idea was 
as follows. Since we were on no account to be used 
as Cavalry, but simply as Infantry transported quickly 
on camels, the object to be aimed at was freedom of 
action as Infantry combined with defence of our 
steeds. Accordingly, the system evolved was to 
jam the camels into a square mass, and flank them 
by squares of men at one or two opposite corners ; 
if necessary to act away from the camels, to leave 
simply enough men to defend them, and manoeuvre 
freely as Infantry.* 

The Mounted Infantry Camel Regiment of course 
drilled on the same principle. During the time we 
were at Shabadud, we practised these formations 
incessantly, and after nine days were as nearly 
perfect as we ever expected to be. 

* See Appendix III. for details. 



CHAPTER V. 

Leave Shabadud Marketing at Abu Gussi Debbeh Ambukol 

Korti. 

ON the loth December the brigade (composed of a 
squadron iQth Hussars, the Guards* Camel Regiment, 
and the Mounted Infantry) packed up and started 
for Ambukol, which town lay some seventy-five miles 
up stream, and from whence we fondly hoped we 
were to go across the Bayuda Desert to Shendy ; 
this idea arose from our having been served out with 
maps of that route. 

The orders being to start at 1.30 a.m., in order 
to get the benefit of a waning moon, I was con- 
siderably pleased on being sent ahead the previous 
day at a rational hour in the afternoon, in order to 
buy koorbashes*and water-skins at a town called Abu 
Gussi, thirty-five miles off. The reason was that Abu 
Gussi rejoiced in a fair every Thursday, and some- 
* Cow-hide whips. 



SHABADUD TO ABU GUSSL 49 

body had to be sent on in time to buy up those useful 
articles, of which we stood much in need, especially 
the koorbashes. 

Accordingly myself and two men started that 
afternoon, and shambled ahead along a faintly 
visible track through the dhurra fields till we lost it 
altogether in the darkness. Luckily I had a compass, 
and the fringe of palms, occasionally visible along the 
river in the distance, showed the general direction. 
As it got darker, however, the compass behaved 
oddly ; we lost sight of the palms, and four times 
came to a standstill in utter bewilderment as to our 
whereabouts. The only thing to be done was to 
inquire the way of some inhabitant, whose fire might 
be yet glimmering in his shanty amongst the fields. 
There was some difficulty in persuading those niggers 
we weren't going to murder them. The moment they 
heard our footsteps, out went their lights, and an 
oppressive silence reigned o'er the land ; no amount 
of shouting and cursing of their fathers and relations 
would arouse them, till the magic word " baksheesh " 
was heard, and then out would come some im- 



So WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

pecunious native and put us back into the track 
for the consideration of two piastres. The last 
time we went astray we got so hopelessly lost that 
we concluded to bivouac under a big mimosa- tree, 
to whose roots we tied our camels, and slept the 
sleep of the righteous till dawn. 

The first streak of light showed us the path, of 
course not thirty yards off, so we pursued it in silence 
till about midday, when we arrived at the fair. 
The only incident of this journey was that, not 
having my eyeglass in at the time, I saw what looked 
like gazelles in the distance, and proceeded to stalk 
them. They turned out to be camels' skeletons. 

A most curious and original sight the fair 
presented. On a gravelly slope sat multitudes of 
men and women, each with their basket in front 
of them, containing dhurra, cakes, butter, oil, a 
variety of vegetables such as " bami," leeks, beans, 
and lentils, eggs, cucumbers, cotton goods, both 
neat and gaudy (from Manchester), bread, string, 
sheepskins, and cheese, but no koorbashes or water- 
skins The babel of tongues was something terrific, 



MARKET AT ABU GUSSI. 51 

of course chiefly proceeding from the women, whose 
charms were arrayed in the native dress of grease 
and dirty sheets. All the women were appallingly 
hideous, ranging from the coal-black negress to the 
yellow nondescript, a mixture of every race in Africa 
and Asia, and sometimes with a dash of Southern 
Europe. Every one had her hair done in the 
approved fashion, viz. parted in the middle, and 
hanging down in little tight plaits, ornamented with 
cowries and blue beads, and dripping with grease. 
A strong contrast to these were their lords and 
masters, mostly strikingly handsome men, who 
paraded about with great solemnity, only unbending 
their dignity when a bargain affected their pockets 
We had been considerably misled about the 
koorbashes and water-skins. The only ones visible 
were private property, and I had to interview their 
owners separately on the subject ; most of these 
flatly refused to part with them, asking with consider- 
able reason how on earth they were to get home 
without them ? A few only unbent, and condescended 
to sell them at fabulous prices. Eventually I got 



E 2 



52 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

some half-dozen koorbashes and a dozen skins for 
about a quarter what they asked, but that was all ; 
I circulated the fact of my wanting these things in all 
the villages near, and the next day got some two 
dozen more, but these were nothing compared with 
the number we wanted. 

The next thing to be done was to help buy grain 
for the advancing troops. Three acting Quarter- 
masters with accompanying interpreters were already 
hard at work. The labour and ingenuity necessary 
for getting hold of the grain were immense. The 
natives had long ago hidden their grain in " caches" 
in their houses and fields, for fear of some marauding 
sheikh seizing it, and they would not be persuaded 
to bring it forth. Large stores were unearthed by 
means of threats and secret information, but the 
owners would not be comforted till they had the hard 
cash in their hands, and then their extravagant 
demonstrations of joy seemed to show that being 
paid for their goods was a most unusual thing. 

The next day the rest of the brigade turned up, 
and encamped close by on the river. We left at 



DEBBEH. 53 

4 am. the morning after. Our road lay over pretty 
open ground, so we marched in column of companies, 
instead of sections of fours. On that day we got to 
Debbeh, an important town at the bend of the Nile. 
It is important as being the junction of the camel- 
routes along the banks of the Nile, across the desert 
to Khartoum, and across to El Obeid ; accordingly 
the town is protected by a fort, garrisoned by Bashi 
Bazouks and a few Turkish troops, who amused 
themselves in the intervals of warfare by perpetrating 
outrages on the villages in the neighbourhood. 

These men were in the service of the Mudir of 
Dongola, and capital troops they were. Two months 
before they had fought several actions with an emissary 
of the Mahdi's, and, although outnumbered, had 
defeated him utterly and eventually annihilated all 



his troops. During the next two days we passed 
over three battle-fields, strewn in places with their 
skulls and bones. 

Two days after leaving Debbeh we arrived at 
Ambukol, which we thought was to have been our 
concentrating point ; it had, however, been settled to 



54 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

make the camp some four miles east of the town, in a 
district called Korti. Ambukol was formerly a place 
of some importance, boasting one, occasionally two 
kings. The town, which has a population of about a 
thousand, stands nearly a mile and a half off the actual 
river, being on a sort of narrow backwater. All the 
land around is wonderfully fertile, green dhurra fields 
stretching in every direction, so it made a capital 
country for a large force of men and camels to encamp 
in. On arriving at Ambukol, we were greeted with 
a military display by the Mudir's irregulars ; they 
advanced on their camels in line, to the sound of 
tom-toms, and then halted whilst their captains dis- 
played their horsemanship in galloping, pulling up 
very short, firing guns, and curvetting and prancing 
around a la riding-school master. 

The show over, we wended our way to our 
camping ground, where we arrived in the cool of 
the evening, and a most delightful spot it appeared. 
A grove of palms along the steep banks of the river ; 
immediately behind them fields of grass dotted with 
slender mimosa-trees, broad patches of tall green 



KORTL 55 

dhurra and short brownish turf beyond these, 
changing to sand and scrub, with the faint hills of 
the desert in the pink distance. Such was Korti 
when we arrived ; by the time we all left it for good, 
it was a good deal worse than the Long Valley at 
Aldershot. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Life at Korti Diamonds and Rubies The Marines Arrive 
Rumours Christmas Day. 

THE very next morning (the I5th December), Lord 
Wolseley arrived in the Mudir's steamer from Don- 
gola, and approved of the site selected for the camp. 
Till the big tents arrived from down stream, we put 
up shelters as best we might, improvising them with 
blankets, bushes, waterproof sheets, rifles, and trees. 

Although the heat was still considerable, I don't 
remember' its ever at that time rising above 100, 
even at midday ; as long as the blessed north wind 
kept blowing, the weather was very pleasant, much 
cooler than it had been down the river. By the way, 
this north wind is a providential natural institution ; 
the heated air from Central Africa naturally rising, 
cool air rushes south from Europe to take its place, 



FIELD-DA VS. 57 

and the consequence is a strong, pleasant north wind 
for most of the year, which to a considerable extent 
counteracts the great natural heat. Besides reducing 
the temperature, it was most useful in helping the 
whaler-boats of the Expedition up stream ; with both 
lugsails set, a boat used sometimes to make as much 
as twenty-five miles a day against the current. 

For the next week or more, our time was chiefly 
occupied with brigade field-days, on camel-back, with 
the Mounted Infantry. The drill was as previously 
described, which we brought to a fair state of per- 
fection : the quickest time on record, from the word of 
command, u Close order," to " Prepare for Cavalry,'' 
being just one minute twenty seconds. The brigade 
part of the drill was done by the battalion camel- 
masses and defending squares flanking each other in 
echelon, and other manoeuvres the same as Infantry 
Brigade Drill. The location of these field-days was 
the desert, about a mile off the river, where it was 
hard gravel or sand, and first-rate going. 

The ground we passed over mostly was covered 
with large pebbles of all sorts, sizes, and colours ; 



58 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

agates, crystals, garnets, and blood-stones were there 
in hundreds. Alas ! we knew not their value. One of 
our men (Woods) used to walk out every afternoon, 
and come back with a large assortment of what he 
called diamonds and rubies. We only laughed at 
him, and called him a fool for his pains ; but long 
afterwards he decidedly got the laugh of us. On 
returning to Alexandria with his diamonds he offered 
one to a jeweller, who gave him 16 for it! He 
would have made a lot of money if he had sold 
them all to this man, but preferred trying to sell 
them in London. The jeweller he went to there, 
however, informed him they were not of the first 
water, and were only saleable abroad, where they 
were made up into third-rate diamond ornaments 
which would not be looked at in England. 

To return. Besides these field-days in the eaily 
morning, there was " stable " duty three times a day. 
I maintain now, as I maintained then, that a camel 
need not and ought not to be groomed like a horse. 
By all means get the camel-lines clean, and in as 
good order as is possible ; give them their forage 



GROOMING CAMELS. 59 

at stated times, and doctor their sore backs ; but a 
camel is not by nature intended to be groomed, so 
do not groom him. The natives never do it, and the 
animal himself strongly objects to the process ; you 
might as well groom an Irish pig. With infinite pains 
you beat the dust out of his skin, remove as many 




as you can of the ticks and maggots that infest him, 
wipe his nose (if he has a cold), and finish up by 
washing off any mud, and drying him with a wisp 
of dhurra stalk. What is the result ? The moment 
your back is turned over he goes, and enjoys a 
delicious roll in the dust and dirt again, making 
himself filthier than before. The natives understand 
this, and. instead of cleaning him, and making him 



60 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

thus more susceptible to the heat of the sun, plaster 
him all over with mud during the hot months, which 
keeps the sun and flies off during the day, and, 
maybe, protects him somewhat from the cold at 
night. 

Every day arrived driblets of troops : part of the 
Sussex (3 5th), Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry 
(46th), Essex (56th), Gordon Highlanders (75th), 
Black Watch (42nd), and Staffordshire (38th) in 
whalers; Commissariat, Transport, Hospital, and 
Engineers' stores on nuggers ; some companies of 
Heavies and Lights, on their camels ; another 
squadron of the iQth Hussars, and, on the 26th, 
four officers and 101 men of the Marines, come to 
be attached to us as our 4th company. 

Of our seven detachments, three (Grenadiers) 
formed the ist company, two (Scots Guards) the 2nd, 
and two (Coldstream) the 3rd ; the Marines now came 
to make up the 4th company of the Guards' Camel 
Regiment. They had been at Suakin for the last six 
months, and were originally to be brought up the Nile 
to form Lord Wolseley's body-guard ; that idea, 



OUR FOURTH COMPANY R.M.LJ. 61 

however, was soon changed, so they were supplied 
with camels and sent to make up our regiment as 
aforesaid. 

Excessively smart they looked, as they came into 
camp and formed up correctly on their markers. 
They were in the same uniform as ourselves, but their 
helmets were snow-white (ours had been stained 
coffee-colour), and their belts and pouches had been 
freshly pipeclayed (ours were brown leather). Their 
grey tunics were spotless, and so were their breeches ; 
in fact, they looked as if they had been turned out of a 
bandbox only the day before, yet their tunics dated 
from Suakin, and their breeches, etc. from Wady 
Haifa. Their movements also equalled their 
appearance. 

All this time, reports were rife as to where we 
were going to : whether up the river, to punish the 
devils who killed poor Colonel Stewart, or across the 
desert to Shendy. News had come in of Gordon's 
still successful defence of Khartoum. Major Kit- 
chener's spies told how the Mahdi had written to 
Gordon, beseeching him not to waste more lives and 



62 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

time, but to deliver up the city to himself, the " divine 
worker of miracles " ; how Gordon had replied that if 
he could work miracles, he had better swim his army 
across, and take the town ; how the Mahdi had 
accordingly collected his army, chanted some spells, 
and sent them all into the river, with the result that 
two hundred fanatics were drowned, and the rest 
paddled back half-dead ; how, in consequence, the 
Mahdi's prestige had declined, and he was residing in 
a hole underground in fear of his life ; how his Emirs 
had bade him lead them and their men in an assault, 
since his life was so charmed that no infidel bullet 
could touch him ; how he had refused to risk his 
valuable self; how his army was perishing from want 
of food ; how the presence of half-a-dozen Englishmen 
would raise the siege ; in fact, every story they (the 
spies) thought would be acceptable to us, whether 
true or not. 

The great difficulty the Intelligence Department 
had to contend against was, of course, the untrusc- 
worthiness of news from all parts. The natural bent 
of a native's mind, when asked for news, is, without 
any reference whatever to the real truth, to state 



FALSE RUMOURS. 63 

what he thinks would be most acceptable to his 
hearers, i.e. if they are in a position to reward him. 
Added to this the difficulty, if not danger, of communi- 
cation across the desert, and the extreme reluctance of 
any friendly native to traverse it, you have some idea 
of the obstacles thrown in the way of getting at news, 
vitally important though it might be to the success of 
the whole expedition. News might come from 
several quarters : across the Bayuda from Metemmeh, 
from Khartoum direct, down the river from Berber, or 
even via Berber, Abu Hamed, Korosko, and tele- 
graphed up again, yet look at the time it would take, 
the distances from Khartoum being respectively 
276, 210, 515, and 660 miles. The Mahdi also used 
to send emissaries across to us, purporting to be 
friends, whereas they invariably gave false in- 
formation, stating that there was no enemy at all 
between us and Khartoum, that the Mahdi's forces 
were deserting in large numbers, etc. etc. any- 
thing to mislead us as to his real intentions. No 
wonder then that news reached us but seldom, and 
that still more seldom was it trustworthy. 



64 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

In order to test the steadiness of our camels as 
regarded noise and firing, the iQth Hussars one day, 
at brigade drill, charged down on the unprotected 
mass of camels, cheering and yelling. Everybody 
expected to see them break their ropes, and career 
wildly over the desert. The only result was that 
one solitary camel struggled to his feet, looked round, 
and knelt down again ; the others never moved an 
eyelid. That was satisfactory ; and as firing into 
them with blank cartridge, and over them with ball, 
had already been tried at Shabadud with no visible 
results, the general opinion was that they would 
stand charging niggers or anything else in creation 
with equanimity. Sad to say, we came to the con- 
clusion that it was want of brains, pur et simple, 
that caused our steeds to behave thus docilely ; any 
other animal with a vestige of mind would have been 
scared to death, but, as it was, no one regretted their 
deficiency. 

Another way of occupying spare time was going 
on outpost duty at night in the scrub, half-a-mile out 
of camp. Barring the difficulty of finding your picquet 



OUTPOST DUTY. 65 

and detached posts in the bushes when you had 
started to go the rounds, it was simple work. One 
distinguished officer of the G.C.R., however, found it 
anything but simple, for, owing to a dearth of officers 
of his rank, he had to superintend the outposts for six 
or seven days running ; he was in a deplorable state 
at the end, and went for ever afterwards by the name 
of "the Field Officer." 

On Christmas Eve occurred the first casualty in 
the G.C.R. A private of the Scots Guards (Tomlinson) 
died of enteric fever, and was buried with full honours 
next day. Sir Herbert Stewart, always the best of 
friends to the " Brigade," gave up the flooring of 
his tent to make the coffin, though there was not the 
smallest chance of his getting any more planks. Not 
many Generals would have done that. 

Christmas Day was solemnised by letting as many 
men off parades and fatigues as possible, and consuming 
as much as we could hold. Plum-puddings were con- 
cocted out of every imaginable eatable, and eaten in 
due style as such. The great difficulty lay in getting 
suet to make the puddings with, as the cows and sheep 



66 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

of those parts do not cultivate fat. However, suet or 
no suet, none of the puddings remained to tell the 
tale, and everybody adjourned to a concert, held on a 
platform between two huge bonfires. Far from there 
being a want of performers, there were but too many, 
and the music lasted long into the night, when all 
retired to dream of home, or to gasp with the 
nightmarish results of the pudding. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Korti to Gakdul Surveying on camel-back Night marching Abu 
Loolah and his family Abu Haifa and the Mahdists. 

AT length on the 27th December, there was a final 
inspection of water-skins, necessaries, arms, kits, and 
accoutrements, and to our delight the report dribbled 
out that we were to start next day, whither we knew 
not. The whole of the Heavies had now arrived, and 
drilled with us several times, so were also ready to 
start. By-and-by we discovered that the Mounted 
Infantry had likewise received instructions to hold 
themselves in readiness for marching, together with a 
proportion of Commissariat, Hospital, Engineers, and 
Transport. The line regiments who had arrived by 
boat had not yet all made their final preparations, so 
we concluded that Gordon was in great difficulties, 
and that we were to strike across the Bayuda Desert 



F 2 



68 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

to Metemmeh. The 38th (South Stafford) were 
starting in boats for Merawi on the 28th, to act as 
advanced guard to Earle's river column ; this we 
knew was going up-stream as soon as it possibly could, 
since every day caused an appreciable diminution in 
the waters of the Nile, and rendered the upper cataracts 
more difficult. Our task therefore seemed to be to 
take Metemmeh, hold it till the river column could 
get round via Abu Hamed and Berber, and then 
advance in force on Khartoum. 

In effect, on the 28th we got our orders to start 
in two days. 

The idea of the advance, officially communicated 
to us, was this : the chief necessary of a desert march 
being water, we were first to proceed to Gakdul wells 
(which lay some 100 miles into the desert), in sufficient 
force to overcome any resistance we should meet there, 
and leave a battalion (the Guards' Camel Regiment) 
there to entrench itself, and hold the wells at any 
cost. The remainder of the force was to return to 
Korti for sufficient troops and transport to advance 
the remaining seventy-six miles to Metemmeh, and 



IDEA OF OPERATIONS. 69 

was to establish itself there, using Gakdul as an 
intermediate point of communication with the base 
at Korti. 

The route from Korti, or strictly speaking from 
Ambukol, to Metemmeh, had very luckily been 
selected thirteen years previously by Ismail Pasha 
(then Viceroy of Egypt) for the continuation of the 
railway already mentioned, intended to run from 
Wady Haifa to Khartoum. It had been thoroughly 
surveyed by his engineers, under the charge of 
Mr. Fowler, C.E., and an accurate plan, therefore, 
of the 176 miles was already in our possession. 
This was of inestimable value to us, as, besides 
marking the sites of the various wells, it gave accurate 
information as to the quantity of water we were 
likely to find there. Abu Haifa and Gakdul were 
the largest reservoirs on the track, and as Abu Haifa 
was reported to have run rather dry, Gakdul was 
chosen as the important point for concentration. 

On Tuesday, the 3Oth December, accordingly, the 
following force started from Korti : one squadron 
1 9th Hussars, Guards' Camel Regiment, Mounted 



70 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Infantry, Engineers, and an enormous camel train 
(1357) bearing stores, composed of " baggagers " and 
the camels belonging to the Heavies and Lights, 
driven by natives, Aden and Somali boys, and super- 
intended by various C.T.C. officers and N.C.O's ; 
a proportion of the Medical Staff Corps/'" and the 
Bearer Company, with camels bearing litters and 
cacolets for the sick and wounded ; all under the com- 
mand of Brigadier-General Sir Herbert Stewart : total, 
73 officers, 1212 men and natives, and 2091 camels. 
Baggage we personally had none. Each man's 

oo o r J 

luggage was limited to what he could carry on his 
camel, not exceeding 4olbs. which was amply sufficient 
even for the officers ; it included a change of tunic, 
pair of boots, sponge, towel, soap, pair of socks, and 
a shirt ; what more could you want ? If you were 
extravagant enough to want a bath, a hole in the 
sand lined with your waterproof sheet made a beautiful 
one ; with that and one blanket rolled on the near 
side, and another blanket and your great-coat on the 

* Used to be the Army Medical Department, or Army Hospital 
Corps, but they change their name every six months. 



OFF AT LAST. 71 

off-side, you had heaps of room in your zuleetahs for 
any amount of luxuries in the shape of French novels, 
sketch-books, and other articles of toilet. Half-a- 
dozen spare camels carried the men's cooking pots, 
rations, water, and our mess saucepans, and voila tout. 
The whole force paraded on the desert plateau 
behind Korti at 3 p.m., and, after a quasi march past 
before Lord Wolseley, moved off in column of route 
about forty camels abreast. The track was beautiful 
going, and every one in high spirits at the prospect 
of commencing the "real business" at last. Though 
the spies and native informers had reported that 
there was no enemy at all on the route, we knew by 
experience that their information was not to be 
too much depended on, and were pretty certain that 
even though we might not meet with any serious 
resistance in the desert itself, probably we should 
have some fighting in getting to the river the other 
end. As Sir Herbert said : "I don't like unnecessary 
slaughter, but I'm afraid we shall have to kill five 
hundred or so of the poor devils before we can 
establish ourselves in Metemmeh." Poor fellow, he 



72 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

little thought of what would happen to him before he 
saw the Nile again. 

In front of the column were half-a-dozen natives 
on camels, to act as guides. Sir Herbert had forced 
them to come in a very simple way. He had sent 
for the chief men at Ambukol who knew the route, 
sat them down in his tent, showed them many dollars, 
and told them they were to come as guides. They 
flatly refused, so the General said : " You will come 
anyhow. If you like a ride to Metemmeh tied on 
to your camels, well and good ; if you prefer not being 
lashed on, you will get these nice presents." So 
they came. 

They were escorted by a small party of the iQth 
Hussars, who had orders to shoot them down if they 
attempted to bolt ; no such opportunity, however, 
occurred. The rest of the igth preceded the whole 
column, scouting quite magnificently ; on coming to a 
plain with hills in the distance, you'd see various specks 
on the tops of the furthest hills, and with the help 
of your glasses discover them to be the igth. Sir 
Herbert was immensely pleased with them, and 



74 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

pointed them out to me as being the very acme 
of Light Cavalry. 

Our first halt was only two hours after we started, 
the object being to give the men their tea, since 
we were going to march all night. Fires were 
easily kindled with the dry grass and mimosa bushes 
which abounded along the track, and the tea having 
been consumed (very good it was, too), we started 
ahead again, the darkness being illuminated by a 
three-quarter full moon. 

I had had a vague idea, before starting from 
England, that it was perpetual summer in the tropics 
both as regards heat and light, but discovered before 
long that the sun rises and sets in Africa at more 
or less the same time as in colder climates, and, 
this being December, it sank below the horizon 
at about five o'clock. Luckily for us, the moon 
appeared shortly after the sun set, and we plodded 
on all night in a beautiful white light, much stronger 
than I ever saw in England. I had to make a 
road-report, and, thanks to the moon, could see 
every black hill in the distance clearly enough to 
take a bearing on. 



SURVEYING BY MOONLIGHT. 75 

It was a novel and pleasant sensation going 
ahead of the column in the quiet moonlit desert, 
not a sound being made by the two thousand camels 
in rear as their padded feet passed over the sand. 
By-and-by the men got sleepy, and their laughter 
and talking grew fainter and fainter, till at last it 
ceased altogether. I got desperately sleepy myself, 
and beastly cold, altogether not in a very fit state 
for surveying ; however, I kept awake by a great 
effort, and took copious notes to keep warm. Ever 
and again came a faint bugle sound from the rear, 
intimating that the baggagers were lagging ; the 
sound was passed on from bugler to bugler, and 
the order given to halt the column till the rear- 
guard came up. 

Sometimes when several camels' loads had slipped 
and the rear-guard halted till they were fixed again, 
the halt would last twelve or fifteen minutes ; so in 
that case I made a note of the exact hour, slipped 
off my camel, and went fast asleep till the " advance" 
woke me up again. I thus timed every halt accu- 
rately, the only way it was possible to check the 
distance gone, allowing exactly two and three-quarter 



76 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

miles for every sixty minutes on the go. This mea- 
surement, I found, answered wonderfully well, for on 
arrival at Gakdul I was within two miles of the 
distance given on Fowler's map. A camel kindly 
paces exactly one yard, though you would have 
thought his long legs would cover much more. In 
going faster or slower than his ordinary pace, he only 
increases or diminishes the number of paces per 
minute, and not the length of his stride, which is 
also very obliging of him. In fact, every camel 
is an accurate walking pedometer, and a first-rate 
animal for surveying the country from. Potiphar 
was no exception ; the only thing that annoyed 
me was that he never would stand still to let me 
get an exact bearing; just as the needle of the 
compass was getting steady, round he whisked, 
and so did the needle. I believe he did it on 
purpose. 

I must not forget to mention here the smallest, 
but by no means the least important member of 
the expedition, namely Jacky. Jacky was a little 
dog of unknown breed, something between a King 



JACKY. 77 

Charles spaniel and a Dandie Dinmont. The only 
thing certain about his parentage was that he was 
English, for he had strongly resented any attempts 
at familiarity on the part of the pariahs or other 
foreign dogs, and had attached himself at once to 
one of our companies at Assouan. He had tramped 
the whole way from Assouan to Korti, and now 
he was coming with us to Khartoum if possible. 
Though his body was small, Jacky's heart was big^ 
for, besides being an affectionate little dog, he 
refused to be carried on a camel even when 
tired, and trotted along with his nose in the air, 
disdaining all offers of help. He went through 
most of the fighting afterwards, and came back with 
us to Korti, where I eventually lost sight of him. 
Let us hope he returned to his native shores in 
safety. 

The country we were passing over was still hard 
sand or gravel, with low ranges of pitch-black hills 
rising all over the place. Most curious shapes they 
were, often exactly like a beefsteak pudding, varying 
from that to a plum-cake ; round smooth hills emerging 



78 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE, 

in many cases from an expanse of bare sand, and 
seldom connected together. Where the tracks led 
close to any of these hills, there were scrubby mimosa 
shrubs, and long yellow grass ; in more favoured parts 
the mimosa trees rose to a height of ten or twelve 
feet, showing there must be subsoil water nearly 
throughout the desert. 

Day broke towards five o'clock, and at six the 
rtveilti bugle was received with ironical cheers. 
About an hour and a half afterwards we crossed a 
hard, cracked mud plain, up a slope into a khor, 
between two ranges of hills. As trees abounded, 
though no water was visible, we halted at 8.30, posted 
a few vedettes and sentries, and after a hearty break- 
fast went fast asleep till the midday heat and flies 
woke us up again. 

How flies and insects of sorts manage to exist in 
the Desert was always a puzzle to me. I always 
imagined that insects required a certain amount of 
dampness, but no the common or garden fly was as 
much at home on the driest slopes of the Bayuda 
Desert as in a lodging-house kitchen in England. 



NEW YEARS EVE. 79 

Curious insects crawled about the yellow grass, the 
exact facsimile of the blades ; unless you saw them 
moving on their cranky swaying legs, you would never 
imagine them to be other than dry sticks or blades of 
grass. A merciful dispensation of Providence has 
ordained that no mosquitoes, bugs, or fleas should live 
south of Wady Haifa, so the only annoying insects 
were common flies and sand-flies, which latter only 
flourish on the banks of the river. 

At 3 p.m. we started again, and proceeded in much 
the same order, with an hour's interval for tea, till 8.30, 
when we arrived at the first wells, Abu Hashim or 
Hambok by name. They were simply funnel-shaped 
holes in the grass, from four to twelve feet deep, with 
hardly any water in them at all. Accordingly we 
pushed on for the next wells, El Howeiyat, some 
thirteen miles further. The ground now got some- 
what steeper, and at midnight we emerged on a broad 
stony khor. 

As soon as it became known that we had entered 
on the New Year, the whole column struck up " Auld 
Lang Syne," and the echoes of the chorus in the 



8o WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

surrounding hills produced a rare effect ; not often, I 
should think, have those rocks heard that sort of 
music. After " Auld Lang Syne," songs of all sorts 
were started, and by the time every one had shouted 
themselves hoarse with the choruses we had arrived at 
the wells of El Howeiyat. These were very similar 
to the holes at Hambok, though slightly better filled 
with the necessary fluid. A halt was therefore ordered 
and the horses of the iQth given a bucketful apiece. 
Long before they were satisfied, the wells were dry, 
and the rest of the column fast asleep. 

At six the rtveilti was sounded, and the force was 
soon on the move again. At midday we debouched 
into a vast scrub-covered plain, intersected by myriads 
of tiny dry watercourses and bounded on the left by 
the Gebel Gilif range. Just as we halted for the 
midday meal, a Hussar appeared, dragging a stalwart 
native after him, whom he had found hiding in the 
long grass. This turned out to be no other than Abu 
Loolah, a famous robber who had been the terror of 
passing caravans. The guides gathered round him, 



A DESERT ROBBER. 81 

chattering all at once, and demanded his instant de- 
capitation. Though seemingly in the presence of an 
unlimited amount of enemies, Abu Loolah did not lose 
his stolidity, putting it no doubt all down to " Kismet." 
Sir Herbert, however, considered him far too valuable 
to lose in this way, so made him accompany us as an 
extra guide, the other natives keeping at a respectful 
distance from him. Ten minutes afterwards another 
Hussar brought in his wife, a decidedly handsome 
young woman, with barely a stitch of clothing to cover 
her charms ; she had likewise been caught after a long 
chase, in which she very nearly gave her captor the 
slip. A small party was then sent to their shanty to 
bring in their household goods, consisting of a camel, 
a baby, some wooden bowls, corn, and a kid. Thus 
the family travelled with us, the whole perched on top 
of their unfortunate camel. 

After a rest of three hours we moved on again, 
intending to get to Gakdul by next morning at day- 
break. About midnight the whole column was halted, 
to allow the indefatigable igth to find out the reason 



THE FIRST MAHDISTS. 83 

of a faint light burning far off on the plains. After 
half-an-hour's absence they returned with several 
natives, a string of camels, and several loads of 
dates. They had found a number of natives 
and camels bivouacked for the night, surprised 
them, captured as much loot as possible, and bolted 
the rest. The caravan turned out to be one loaded 
with stores from the Lower Nile for the Mahdi's 
troops ; the provisions consisted chiefly of dates, 
so what the Hussars could not carry away they 
carefully pitched into holes, and strewed about in 
the grass. 

At 3.15 a.m. we crossed the track leading to 
the Abu Haifa wells, which lay three or four miles 
N.E. of our route. A party of Mounted Infantry 
was accordingly sent thither to explore, whilst the 
rest of the column pushed on to Gakdul. The 
Mounted Infantry found some twenty men in the 
Mahdi's uniform* round the wells, took four prisoners, 

* This uniform was simply a long white night-shirt, covered with 
scraps of blue and red cloth, and a coloured straw skull-cap ; the 
higher the rank, the more decorated they were. 






G 2 



84 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

and bolted the rest. The prisoners lost their temper, 
tore off their uniform, and spat on it. This ebulli- 
tion of feeling was taken for what it was worth, 
and they were sent on to Gakdul in their native naked- 
ness, whilst the party of Mounted Infantry entrenched 
themselves at the wells. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Arrival at Gakdul The wells Building forts A search for 

more wells. 

ABOUT seven o'clock, we turned imperceptibly into 
the track leading to the wells. So imperceptible 
was the difference in direction, that at first I could 
not make out why the sun pursued such a curiously 
crooked course. Suddenly it dawned on me that 
we ought to be close on the wells, according to cal- 
culation, and that the track was making a very 
gradual bend to the east. 

The way now began to get very unpleasant, the 
ground being strewn with large round stones, which 
made the camels slither about in a dangerous way, 
and seriously disturbed the dressing of the column. 
We were now entering a sort of broad defile, hemmed 
in apparently on all sides by steep, rocky, black hills. 
The column now halted for ten minutes to allow 



86 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

the rear to close up, and for the iQth to find out 
whether the wells were in possession of the enemy. 
The Hussars speedily climbed their ponies up the 
hills, found the place deserted, posted vedettes on 
the highest rocks, and sent back to report. The 
column accordingly advanced through a narrow pass, 
barely one hundred yards wide, into a tiny plain, 
culminating in a regular cul-de-sac. " Where, oh, 
where are the wells ? " inquired everybody. They 
were not to be seen at first, till the Intelligence 
Department, in the shape of Major Kitchener, pointed 
out a steep wall of rock at the far end. On peeping 
round this, we discovered a magnificent pool of 
water, about twenty yards by thirty, and apparently 
of unknown depth, for the rocks went perpendicularly 
down into it. 

The column formed up gingerly on the nubbly 
stones, dismounted with difficulty, as the camels ob- 
jected to kneeling on such unpleasant ground, and 
proceeded to unload stores, etc. I concluded to 
explore the wells thoroughly, so tied Potiphar to 
a tree, and arduously climbed to the top of the pre- 



THE UPPER POOLS. 87 

cipice overhanging the aforesaid pool. There were 
said to be two more pools above the lower one, 
communicating with each other, and these were 
easily found ; that is to say, I saw down into them 
from above, but did not see how to get at them, 
since they lay at the bottom of the usual perpen- 
dicular rocks. However, after much difficulty and 
sliding about, I got down to the upper one ; even 
then the water lay so far below me, I could hardly 
dip my cup into it, but when I did reach it the 
drink was over and above sufficient reward for the 
climb. The middle pool had now to be reached by 
a steep sort of narrow channel through the rock. I 
shoved myself in, legs foremost, and immediately 
slid down about ten yards, being only brought up 
short by clinging to the rock on either side. The 
bed of the channel was as slippery as ice, owing 
to the friction from the torrents that pour through 
during the rainy season, and the passage itself termi- 
nated abruptly five feet above the pool. By dint 
of digging my toes into a crack or two, I succeeded in 
standing up in comfort. What a beautiful sight it was ! 



88 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Eighty feet above my head towered an overhanging 
precipice of black rock ; behind me rose another of 
the same height ; at the foot of the one in front 
Liy a beautiful, large, ice-green pool, deepening into 
black as I looked into its transparent depths. Scarlet 
dragon-flies flitted about in the shade ; rocks covered 
with dark-green weed looked out of the water ; the 
air was cool almost to coldness. It was like being 
dropped into a fairy grotto, at least so it seemed 
to me after grilling for days in the sun. 

I drank as much of the water as I could con- 
veniently hold, filled my water-bottle as a specimen 
for the thirsty souls below, and went to the lower 
end of this beautiful pool, where a similar channel 
connected it with the lowest of all. I climbed into it, 
and found myself overlooking the large pool about 
twelve feet below, where rows of horses and camels 
were drinking at the far end. As this pool was 
notoriously only fit for animals, stray Arabs watering 
their flocks and camels there, and washing their 
beastly selves in it, my first thought was naturally 
how the cool water of the upper pools was to be 



WATER SUPPLY ASSURED. 89 

brought to the men, since they apparently could 
not reach it without much difficulty. The obvious 
way seemed to be to lead it through the channels, 
but how was the fresh water to pass the dirty water 
through it, above it, or how ? It could not go round 
it, for the cliffs were perpendicular. The General's 
foresight had provided for this, and on returning 
below, I found the Engineers had, in addition to 
half-a-dozen small pumps, brought nearly one hun- 
dred yards of hose, amply sufficient to reach the 
upper wells. I wanted the hose to lie along inflated 
water-skins, on the pool, but my suggestion was 
pooh-poohed, and the hose suffered to lie along 
the bottom ; I predicted it would rot in the water, 
but it didn't. 

The water supply being thus assured, and amply 
sufficient (the upper pools containing each more than 
half the contents of the camel-pool), the next thing to 
be done was to hold the wells. The Engineers were 
to stay with the Guards' Camel Regiment, whilst the 
others went back for more troops and stores, so they 
were at once told off to help plan two forts, one at the 






90 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

entrance to the cul-de-sac, the other immediately above 
the wells. 

By the midday meal, all stores had been unloaded, 
and piled in a glen close to the wells, u covered " by 
the future fort. During the afternoon, most of us 
indulged in the first wash we had had since leaving 
Korti, whilst others not so cleanly inclined sought to 
sleep awhile. At dusk, having given all the beasts a 
good drink, the returning force " fell in," with all the 
available camels ; they even took away all our steeds, 
for baggage purposes, only kindly leaving us some 
half-dozen who were too sick to go back. By eight 
o'clock the column had disappeared, leaving us alone 
in our glory with 6 Hussars, 15 Engineers, and a vast 
store of Commissariat to keep us company. 

The returning force only intended to clear out of 
the defile, and pass the night immediately outside on 
the plain before beginning their journey. It was 
about time to get a little sleep, as we had been going 
for eighty-four hours without more than four hours' 
consecutive sleep. The distance traversed, not quite 
one hundred miles according to Fowler, had been 



LEFT IN POSSESSION. 91 

done in sixty-four hours, thirty- four hours on the 
move and thirty broken up into short halts ; the 
rate of travelling was therefore just under three miles 
an hour call it two and three-quarter miles, taking 
the average rate of camels at that ; this result always 
turned out fairly accurate. 

Allowing Sir Herbert's baggage train half as much 
time again to get comfortably to Korti, the same back 
to Gakdul, and forty-eight hours to collect troops and 
stores at Korti, we considered that we ought to see 
them back in ten days at the outside, and then, 
hooray for the advance ! There was plenty to be 
done before they came back : forts to build, roads to 
make, camps, etc. to mark out, and reconnoitring to 
be done. 

The men were told off in fatigues for the various 
duties, and splendidly they worked ; their shoe-leather 
never recovered it. Smooth roads were formed all 
about the enclosure by picking up the objectionable 
stones, and paths hacked in the rocks to the various 
points of interest, such as the forts and picquet 
stations. The forts rose slowly, inch by inch, and 



ON OUTPOST DUTY. 93 

I venture to say that if the workmen had been any 
others than Guardsmen and Marines, the walls would 
never have risen so quickly from the ground. As 
it was, the walls in ten days rose to over five feet 
high, a marvellous piece of work considering the 
few men we had, the size of the forts, and the enor- 
mous difficulty there was in getting material. All the 
loose stones in the neighbourhood were collected 
and built into the walls ; that occupied four days ; 
for the remainder of the time every stone had to 
be loosened out of the solid rock with pickaxes and 
worked with levers, till it could be carried to its 
proper place. Considering that there were only 
three pickaxes and two crowbars for each fort, the 
one measuring roughly 20 yards by 23, the other 
30 yards by 15, the amount of work done was 
something extraordinary. 

Outpost duty w r as rather severe, especially at 
night. Since we were by no means sure that the 
enemy might not be meditating a night attack on 
our citl-de-sac, we had to keep many sentries going. 
Two officers and some sixty-five men were on 



94 



WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 



outpost duty every twenty- four hours. Since several 
high hills commanded all the tracks, ravines, and 
gullies by which we might be attacked, it was easy 
enough to post sentries during the day to see for 




GOING THE ROUNDS AT NIGHT (GAKDUL). 

many miles round. At night, however, it was different ; 
a chain of sentries had to be established round the whole 
place, and with so many glens and gullies it was im- 
possible to command the whole satisfactorily with a 
few men on a pitch-dark night. Oh, the agony of 



ON OUTPOST DUTY. 95 

going the rounds four or five times a night ! The 
whole distance on a map would not exceed three- 
quarters of a mile, if as much, but the fastest time 
on record was forty-eight minutes for the whole round. 
Uphill and downhill, over those sharp rocks, no path 
visible, as your lantern would infallibly go out at 
the first cropper, skinning your shins over every 
big stone, climbing down precipices you would never 
attempt by daylight, losing your way, your hat, your 
bearings. On these black nights, any enterprising 
nigger could have "croaked" a sentry; the wonder 
was that it didn't happen. The wear and tear to 
shoe-leather was something awful ; not one of us 
had a decent pair of boots at the end of the first 
week. 

Occasionally during the day, an officer or sentry 
on outpost would spot a native, miles off in the plain, 
and signal it down to the C.O. The Intelligence De- 
partment, still happily represented by Major Kitchener, 

V , D , and some Hussars, would promptly 

saddle any beasts that came to hand, and scoot out 
after him. Several times the reconnaissance party 



96 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

captured and scattered a caravan bringing dates and 
stores for the Mahdi, and we soon had quite a 
respectable amount of prisoners. On one occasion 
an unfortunate native who was overtaken offered a 
Medjidie dollar, his little all, to Kitchener as a ransom ! 
News was also communicated from outside the valley 
by a heliograph, which signalled any unusual occurrence 
in any direction ; in fact, the only direction from which 
an unexpected enemy might arrive was that above 
the wells, towards the heart of the mountain-range. 
Being certain that there ought to be more water 

somewhere in the hills, N and I one day followed 

up the torrent track above the wells. The scene in 
the rainy reason must be grand beyond description. 
The smooth round boulders, the uprooted mimosa- 
trees, the occasional pot-holes in the rock, and the 
general aspect of the torrent bed, all bore witness 
to the destructive violence of the masses of water 
that tear down from the hills on to the plain below 
every summer. The natives report that on the vast 
gravelly plain of the Bayuda the rain-water reaches 
for a few days the depth of over two feet, but is 



MORE POOLS. 97 

quickly sucked up by the thirsty sand. If that is 
so down below, what must be the scene in the hills 
when the rains are in full swing ! I should like to see 
it, from a balloon. 

We climbed and struggled over the boulders for 
some time without finding any water, till we were 
brought up short by seeing some greenish liquid 
oozing out from under a rock. It was discovered 
to be a spring, but the water was warm and slimy, 
and probably unwholesome. A short distance off 
was another similar one, likewise nasty, so we did 
not pull up till we came to a pot-hole in the rock, 
about six feet across, and ten deep, half full of 
beautifully clear water. Having forgotten to bring 
a cup, and our water-bottles being too light to sink 
by themselves, we tied a baccy bag to a stick 
and drank in comfort. During the manoeuvres 
employed to fill the bag with water, my precious 
pipe fell out of my pocket into the hole. I couldn't 
reach so far with my arm, and our extemporised cup 
was too small to fish it out with, so we employed the 
last resource : N held me by the heels, whilst I 



98 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

slid down the perpendicular side and fished it out. Of 
course, whilst I was being hauled up in this inverted 
position, most of the other things fell out of my 
pockets, and I had to go down again. One tiny 
tin of meat lozenges is there to this day, but the other 
articles, being floatable, were recovered. 

We then pursued our way till we got to a stony 
little plain, with faint gazelle and jackal tracks, all 
converging in one direction, which could only mean 
one thing water. In fact, after a few minutes' walk, 
we suddenly came upon an immense pool of rain-water, 
similar to those below, and hemmed in on all sides by 
steep rocks. I had luckily a quantity of string in my 
pocket, so as we wanted to gauge the contents 
of the reservoir, I stripped and plunged in. 
Owing to the shape of the thing, I could not take 
a header into deep water, and the cold of the water 
driving the blood to my head made me turn dizzy and 
nearly faint ; however, ducking my head made me feel 
better at once. Having previously tied a stone to the 
end of my string, I let it slip when about half-way 
across ; to my surprise it kept quite taut right to the 



AFTER GAZELLE. 99 

end, twenty-four feet of it. That was deep enough for 
anybody, so after a delicious swim in the cool water, I 
got out, and the sun dried me in less than half-a-minute. 
The pool we calculated to be about twenty yards 
by twelve, with an average depth of at least eighteen 
feet big enough to last a big force some time. A 

shout from N now announced he had discovered 

another one higher up the rocks, situated immediately 
above the big pool, and about half its size. So far, so 
good ; if the Gakdul wells gave out, we might depend 
on this as a last extremity, but the question how we 
were to get the camels up, or the water down to the 
plain, we left to a future occasion : as it happened, 
these reserve wells were never used. We fully in- 
tended to go there some night and wait for gazelle, 
but, somehow 7 , never did ; we had enough nights out 
of bed as it was. 

Sometimes, when on outpost during the day, a 
sentry would (according to orders) report a gazelle in 
the distance, and any officer within hail would proceed 
to stalk it, but hardly any were got this way ; they 
were fearfully shy beasts, and the ground was rather 



H 2 



ioo WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

too broken for a comfortable stalk. You would mark 
down one behind a rock, but by the time you had 
worked your way up behind him, he wasn't there. 

A third fort, a tiny one on an outstanding ridge 
flanking the wells and the other two works, was now 
constructed and finished in a couple of days, and a 
road hacked up to it. By the time Sir Herbert 
arrived, we flattered ourselves he would not know the 
place again. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Return and advance of the column Details. 

ON the nth of January a convoy arrived under 
Colonel Stanley Clarke, consisting of stores and 
ammunition. Luckily, I happened to be on outpost 
that night, and escaped the fiendish clatter and 
noise that his 1000 camels made in getting to the 
wells to drink native drivers jabbering, camels 
bellowing, Englishmen swearing all night through. 
By an elaborate arrangement of pumps, hose, and 
troughs, the Engineers had contrived to allow thirty 
camels to water at a time (the original entrance only 
allowing three or four) ; yet watering 1000 camels 
took a considerable time far into the night and 
dawn was breaking by the time they had all finished. 
Next day the fighting part of the force arrived, under 
Sir Herbert, and with great joy did we welcome back 



102 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

our steeds, who were already showing signs of short 
rations and hard work ; their humps were diminishing, 
the saddles working loose, and sore backs ensued. 
Our camels brought back some 400 of the 35th 
(Sussex) Regiment, who were to garrison the wells, 
under their Colonel, Vandeleur, whilst we went ahead. 

Orders were issued by the General to start the 
next day but one ; accordingly the intervening day 
was employed in watering the whole force again, 
seeing to the arms and ammunition (170 rounds a 
man), and issuing stores. 

As much water as possible was taken in iron 
camel-tanks, two to a camel, but the condition of our 
private water-skins and leather bottles was pitiable. 
Every man had been served out afresh with both skin 
and bottle on starting from Korti, and yet barely 
twenty per cent, of the skins held their full comple- 
ment of water. Even after every visible hole had been 
carefully sewn up, and the whole skin thoroughly 
greased, at the end of the first day's march you would 
find more than half your water evaporated ; next day 
the skin would be a damp, flabby bag, and the day 



BAD STATE OF WATER-SKINS AND MUSSEKS. 103 

after a dried, shrivelled-up article without an atom of 
water in it. How a committee of intelligent officers 
can ever have selected such an article beats my com- 
prehension ! The long Egyptian leathern water- 
bottles ("musseks") were even worse, letting the 
water out in streams through the seams. The orders 
about water were that every man was to replenish his 
little wooden English bottle from the " mussek " for 
his private use, and on no account to touch his skin, 
which was to be used for public purposes, such as 
making tea and cooking fresh meat. However, when 
his wooden bottle, holding one pint, was exhausted, and 
the water in his mussek had evaporated, what was he 
to do ? We made a few men sew up their waterproof 
sheets into water-bags, but thorns and sharp stones 
had played havoc with the watertightness of most 
of them. The sailors were better off, for they had 
brought up a quantity of large indiarubber bags, 
specially made for the purpose. I wish the Govern- 
ment would have gone to the expense of providing 
every one with them ; it would have saved an enormous 
amount of pain and privation. 



104 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

On Wednesday, the I3th of January, the new 
column paraded outside the hills on the plain, and at 
2 p.m. we moved off in columns of companies, Heavies 
leading, ourselves next, baggage and stores in the 
centre, and Mounted Infantry to bring up the rear. 
The actual numbers were : 

Division, Naval Brigade, with one 

Gardner gun . . . about 30 of all ranks. 

Heavy Camel Regiment . . 380 

Three troops, iQth Hussars . 90 ,, 
Half Battery, Royal Artillery, with 

three 7-pounder screw guns . 30 

Royal Engineers ,, 25 

Guards' Camel Regiment . . 367 

Mounted Infantry do. . . 360 

Sussex 100 

Medical and Commissariat Staff 45 

Native drivers . . . 120 

Total (roughly speaking), about 1500 men, 90 
horses, and 2200 camels. 

The Hussars were, of course, mounted on their 
own horses, little wiry grey Egyptian stallions, 
hardly deserving the name of horses. I should 
properly call them ponies, as not one reached fifteen 



DETAILS. 105 

hands ; little beasts always full of go, whether they got 
their rations or not, having a capacity for going with- 
out water for an extraordinary length of time ; no 
English horse could have gone through the time they 
had during the next week with any chance of life ; yet 
they seemed to thrive on desert air and crumbly dry 
grass. All the rest of the force (with the exception of 
the natives, who walked) were mounted on camels 
gunners, blue-jackets and all. I forgot to mention 
that Colonel Burnaby arrived with a convoy of grain, 
just in time to come on with us, but the grain was 
mostly left at Gakdul and the camels impressed for 
carrying stores and rations. Only sufficient corn was 
brought on to allow of two feeds per camel of eight 
pounds each ; the fact was that the authorities had 
stopped buying camels on the Nile, and two camels 
were made to do the work of three ; consequently there 
were not enough to carry grain for the force, and the 
camels had to sustain themselves on mimosa shoots 
and long, dry yellow grass, a hundredweight of 
which would barely produce a pound of nourishment. 
The Naval Division under Lord C. Beresford, 



io6 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Lieutenants Piggott, Munro, and De Lisle, brought 
one Gardner gun with them, but were only allowed 
1000 rounds of ammunition. Considering that the 
gun* fired over 100 rounds a minute, this was only 
allowing it ten minutes' work at the outside more 
false economy. 

The three guns brought by the Artillery were 
7lb. screw guns (i.e. made to screw together), three 
powerful camels carrying one gun and ammunition 
between them ; 100 rounds per gun were brought. 

The next four divisions have been already de- 
scribed : it only remains for me to say a word about 
the Medical, Bearer Company, Commissariat, and 
Transport arrangements. Besides the camels carrying 
stretchers and medical stores, and the doctors super- 
intending them, a large quantity of camels had been 
fitted for the reception of sick and wounded, with 
litters and cacolets. These were in charge of a 
section of the Bearer Company, an offshoot of the 
Medical Staff during war time, and most useful 
they proved. The Commissariat was in immediate 
* The identical ill-fated one that jammed at Tamai. 



STORES. 107 

charge of Deputy Commissary Nugent, C.B., an 
invaluable man, with a head like a calculating- 
machine. His train consisted of about 800 camels, 
carrying stores of all sorts, and driven by Aden 
boys, negroes, and natives of all sorts, clothed in 
a red turban, a blue jersey, a haversack, and a brass 
ticket nothing more. The reason for such a large 
quantity of stores was that it was intended to form 
a large depot at Metemmeh before advancing on 
Khartoum ; and this was the first instalment pro- 
visions for 1500 men for a month. 



CHAPTER X. 

On the march again W. and his camel Gebel es Sergain The 
enemy in sight. 

THE first afternoon's going was over a vast gravelly 
plain, with gentle undulations. As we pursued our 
way S.E., the Gebel Gilif range faded away in the 
\ distance towards the East, and when we halted for 
the night at 6 o'clock, the hills were almost 
invisible. 

Our resting-place was a hard, sandy slope, dotted 
here and there with tussocks of dry grass and 
mimosa bushes, which were speedily utilised for fuel. 
Every one of the baggage camels had to be un- 
loaded, as they could not rest comfortably with their 
loads on, and by the time they had been fed it was 
quite dark. 

Sentries were posted at some distance off on 



"BULLY" BEEF. 109 

each flank of the resting column, in order to give 
the alarm in plenty of time if the enemy should 
appear, and try to rush us. The column was so 
halted that in case of attack the different regiments 
could quickly form square at any angle of the camels, 
and flank each other and the vast mass of baggagers 
and stores. 

Reveille woke us at next morning at 3 a.m., and 
by 4.30 we had had our breakfasts and were on 
the move. It is very cold in the early morning in 
the desert, especially during January, and the comfort 
of a steaming cup of cocoa or tea, with biscuit and 
cold " bully " beef, must be felt to be appreciated. Al- 
though I own " bully" is not inviting at midday, when 
floating about the tin in red, warm, stringy masses, 
yet it has its period of beauty, in the early mornings, 
when the cold night has solidified it into respectable- 
looking cold beef; at that time a quarter of a pound 
of it inside you, washed down with hot drink, makes 
a deal of difference in the way you are disposed 
to look at things on a dark and cold morning. 

Shortly after day broke, we saw the Gebel en 



i io WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Nus in the distance. It is a well-known landmark 
in the Bayuda, being a tall conical hill sticking 
straight up out of the sand, and visible for many 
miles round. My company, worse luck, was de- 
tailed for baggage guard that morning : this irk- 
some duty consisted in keeping a short way behind 
the baggage train, and whacking up any camel or 
driver who lagged behind. Every five minutes a 
load would slip off, or a camel fall down sick ; in 
that case a couple of men were at once detailed 
to dismount, help load up the camel, and whack it 
along again. As all the baggagers were in strings 
of three, tied nose to tail, each string in charge of 
one native driver, the downfall of one meant the 
stoppage of the three ; the other two camels gene- 
rally did not comprehend why they should stop, 
and hauled away till their head-gear or tail-ropes 
gave way, or else got themselves so entangled with 
each other that their loads dropped off, and then 
the whole thing had to be done again ; it was an 
endless business, and provocative of much swearing. 
Generally by the time the three camels were reloaded 



A SLIGHT CATASTROPHE. ill 

and set going again, the column was nearly out of 
sight, with nothing behind but the rear-guard, who 
had strict orders not to allow any one behind them. 
We had not gone far on this morning, when 
there was a violent commotion just in front of me 
amongst the baggage 
train, and an enor- 
mous riderless camel 
appeared tearing its 
way through the 
others. It charged 
my company, and 
threw it into some 
confusion ; no one 
could catch hold of 
it, as it had no head- 
( gear to hang on by, 
and it was still cantering awkwardly about my ranks, 
when its rider appeared in the shape of W , some- 
what out of breath from pursuing his steed through the 
sand, but trying to look as if he liked it. It seemed 
that his camel, a brute noted for its evil habits, had 




AN ANNOYING TRICK. 



112 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

managed somehow to slip its bridle off, and on finding 
itself free had indulged in a series of violent kicks. 

W stuck on like a monkey, but when the brute 

proceeded to bolt, and there was nothing to guide 
it by, he thought it was time to get off, and did so 
speedily, arriving on his head in the soft sand. His 
camel was at length lassoed and remounted, and 

W trotted off to his place none the worse. 

Soon after this little episode, the track (or rather 
where the track ought to have been) led over some 
very soft sand-hills, rather a feature at this particular 
place. The wind coming from the north drives 
mounds of fine drift sand before it, which advance 
very slowly, but with an irresistible force, over- 
whelming landmarks, rocks, and trees, and only to 
be stopped by running water (of which there isn't 
any). It is a terrible place for losing one's way, 
since these sand-hills extend for over half-a-mile, 
and entirely obliterate the track. This is especially 
unpleasant on the return journey, as there are no 
hills or landmarks visible anywhere. Several camels 
went head over heels down the soft slopes, and 



CAMELS ALREADY IN DIFFICULTIES. 113 

lay there with their legs in the air, unable to right 
themselves with their loads on. 

At ten o'clock we halted for the midday meal, and 

rested two hours. Just as we were going to start 

again, the rear-guard (Scots Guards Company) turned 

up, having had tremendous work driving up stragglers 

and reloading broken-down camels. If a camel dropped 

in his tracks, his load and saddle were taken off him 

and loaded on another (already loaded) camel. The 

few spare camels had been used up long ago, so the 

stores had to be packed at any cost on animals already 

weakened by fatigue and short rations. The way 

the poor brutes toiled on was something marvellous ; 

you would see one go slower and slower, till the tail 

of the animal in front he was tied to seemed nearly 

coming off; then he would stop for a second, give 

a mighty shiver, and drop down stone-dead. If he 

fell alive, but could not go on, he was left there. It 

sounds cruel not to have shot them at once, but the 

majority of those thus left rested for some time, then 

staggered up to browse on the dry grass and mimosa 

trees, and thus prolonged their life some days. A 



ii4 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

great many recovered sufficiently to travel to various 
small wells, guided by their marvellous instinct for 
finding water ; in fact, at one well (El Faar), a long 
time afterwards, no fewer than seventy-three camels 
were found, in the last stage of thinness and sore 
backs of course, but very much alive all the same I 

The column passed Gebel en Nus at one o'clock, and 
forthwith the scenery changed. We now entered a 
broad valley, covered with grass and really decent 
sized trees, some as much as twenty feet high still no 
water visible, though I have no doubt there was plenty 
close under the surface. All round were rocky hills, 
sometimes forming low ridges across the track, 
sometimes receding into the distance ; far away ahead 
could be seen the Gebel es Sergain (Hill of the 
Saddle), which had been previously selected as our 
halting-place for the night. 

At five o'clock we reached it. The ground was cut 
up into sandy water-channels, making most comfortable I 
sleeping ground, but very unpleasant for any one to I 
get over at night. Accordingly, the column was dis-j 
posed as before, additionally protected by the broken 



PAST GEBEL ES SERGAIN. 115 

ground in front, and the hills on either flank crowned 
with sentries. It happened to be my turn for outpost 
duty ; and little did I think, when scrambling my 
rounds that night in pitch darkness, that some nine or 
ten thousand of the enemy were within half a day's 
march of us. Everybody was firmly convinced we 
should have no fighting till we got to the river, if then ; 
and no one anticipated much of a resistance, least of 
all in the desert. 

Next morning we started before daybreak, and 
pursued our way over a large gravelly plain, sand- 
drifts alternating with stretches of level black rock. 
Expecting to make the wells of Abu Klea by the 
evening, the column halted about eleven in a small 
valley at the far end of the plain, just where the 
ranges of hills (a mile off on either flank up till now), 
approached one another. The track ahead we saw led 
up a steepish hill over rocky ground, and then through 
a regular pass commanded by the hills on each side. 
According to the map, the wells lay some three miles 
the other side of this pass in a sandy valley. 

Directly the Hussars had finished their meal, they 



I 2 




MV&K -v 




ENEMY IN SIGHT. 117 

were sent ahead to water their horses, who, poor little 
beasts, hadn't had a good drink since starting from 
Gakdul. The rest of the force had finished their 
dinner in comfort, and were resting peacefully, when 
the order suddenly came to fall in at once and examine 
arms and ammunition. Then like a flash the report 
spread from mouth to mouth that the enemy were 
in sight on the hills commanding the pass, and were 
-evidently prepared to make a fight of it. 



CHAPTER XL 

Dispositions for attack Stone zeriba formed Night of the i6th 

Officers shot. 

THE column mounted and fell in at once, much 
pleased at such an unexpected bit of luck. At last 
we were actually coming to blows with the enemy that 
so many had regarded as a phantom. Sir Herbert 
galloped ahead on to some rising ground, and quickly 
took in the position. With the help of glasses, all the 
hills and rocks surrounding the pass were seen to be 
dotted with white-robed Arabs, jumping about and 
gesticulating violently. That there were plenty of 
them down below too was clearly proved by an officer 
of the i Qth (Craven, I think it was), who, on turning a 
corner, ran straight into a crowd of them, and only 
saved himself by the speed of his pony. Their 
numbers altogether seemed to be about 2000, allow- 
ing for half that number to be in reserve behind the 



FIRST VIEW OF THE ENEMY. 119 

rocks. The General saw at once that it would be folly 
to attempt going straight along the track, as there the 
enemy had us at their mercy from their position on the 
hills ; he therefore deployed the fighting force into 
line of columns, baggage-train immediately in rear, and 
advanced the whole slowly up the broken hills, imme- 
diately above the valley where we had been resting. 
We shortly came on to an open stretch, and there the 
brigade was halted, whilst further reconnaissances were 
being made and the plan of advance settled on. The 
ground we were on was a brown, rocky slope, cut up 
into innumerable mounds and small hills, most difficult 
for manoeuvring on ; we therefore soon received the 
order to move on again, and advanced up the stony 
slope to a bit of flat ground which gave on to the plain 
beyond. There we closed to jammed column, and 
dismounted, tightly knee-lashing our camels. 

The view from this spot was extensive. In the 
distance the broad sandy valley of Abu Klea, covered 
with the everlasting tussocks of yellow grass and 
mimosa trees, and on all sides steep, rocky hills open- 
ing out towards the front ; masses of Arabs congre- 



izo WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

gated on every hill-top, just out of range, their white 
dresses showing up well against the black ground ; on 
our immediate left in a hollow the track which the 
enemy fondly hoped we would follow, and which they 
had commanded by small stone works on the hills near. 
The signallers were already hard at work with their 
flags, sending back messages from the scouts of the 
1 9th, when we received the order for a company from 
each regiment to extend and cover our front. This 
looked like business, and we waited impatiently for 
further orders. My company (under the command of 

C ) happened to be extended on the right front 

flank, and eagerly we watched the niggers dancing 

about on the hills, some 2000 yards off. C , a 

former musketry instructor, with ideas of his own 
about the effect of long-range fire, was most anxious to 
experiment on them by means of section volleys, but 
he couldn't get leave, and had to fall back on theorising. 
On our left we saw a strong detachment of 
Mounted Infantry and Blue-jackets (with their Gard- 
ner) climb a hill the other side of the pass, proceed to 
build a stone wall enclosure, and mount the Gardner 



Z ERIE A FORMED. 121 

therein. This looked like guarding our flanks for 
defence, and not for action ; and so it proved, for the 
rest of the force now received orders to pile arms, and 
build a stone wall zeriba as quickly as possible. It 
was already past four o'clock, and the General had 
determined not to attack till the next day, so we 
proceeded to secure ourselves for the night. Sentries 
were posted, and every one else brought stones and 
built them up on the lines of a sort of irregular redan. 
The ground was solid, with very few loose stones 
lying about, and though officers and all worked with 
a will, before the wall was two feet high the sun had 
already gone down, and twilight was rapidly coming 
on. Emboldened by the growing darkness, a crowd of 
the enemy sneaked up to the top of a hill about 1200 
yards off on the right flank, and started a dropping 
long-range fire at us. A couple of guns were at once 
brought into action, and blazed shrapnel at them, but 
apparently with not much effect, for the Arabs stuck to 
their ground. 

Darkness coming on, the guns ceased firing, and 
attention was turned to manning the zeriba in ex- 



122 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

pectation of a night attack. The low stone wall did 
not extend back to the flanks of the baggage and 
stores, which were close behind on somewhat lower 
ground, so a hasty abattis was erected of thorny 
bushes and wire-entanglement to protect them as 
much as possible. A pannikin of lime-juice and 
water was served out to each man, and the work (if 
one might so call it) was then manned in double 
rank by the whole force. Although bullets whistled 
about our heads wherever a light of any sort was 
visible, not much harm was done, and men com- 
posed themselves to sleep with much sang-froid. Soon 
on all sides arose the noise of torn toms, now far away 
in the darkness, and now so close that it seemed 
as if the whole of the enemy must be mustering 
for attack within three hundred yards ; it was very 
jumpy listening to them, so I put my trust in the 
outposts and went fast asleep. Twice during the 
night, some man afflicted with bad dreams jumped 
up with a yell and started all his immediate neighbours 
on to their legs, but they were quieted directly and 
lay down again. Although the dropping fire went 



BREAKFAST UNDER FIRE. 123 

on all night, very few bullets found their billet in 
the zeriba, and I think only two men altogether, 
a Hussar and a camel-driver, were wounded. 

Morning broke at last, and great was the desire 
to stamp about to get warm again ; however, the 
Arabs on the hill-tops had increased during the 
night and had discovered the exact range. The 
bullets flew thicker and thicker, and men who jumped 
up to stretch their legs were not sorry to lie down 
again under cover of the little wall. Breakfast was 
eaten, consisting of bully beef and biscuits out of 
our haversacks, and a gun was mounted in the salient 
of the zeriba. We waited some time for the enemy 
to attack, but since they did not seem inclined to 
do so, the flanking party was called in, and Sir 
Herbert made his preparations for advance. 

The General's person seemed a favourite target for 
the enemy's marksmen, and brought grief to several. 
The first to fall was Major Dickson of the Royals 
(attached to the Intelligence Department), shot 
through the knee. Colonel Burnaby's horse next 
received a bullet in the fetlock, and was led limping 



124 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

to the rear ; then a bullet grazed the temples of 
Major Gough (commanding the Mounted Infantry), 
and knocked him senseless, and another one caught 
Lieutenant Lyall, R.A., in the back ; a large pro- 
portion of officers already. 



CHAPTER XII. 

Formation of the square Advance Sudden charge of the Arabs 
Action of Abu Klea Killed and wounded. 

SIR HERBERT'S intentions were, briefly, to fight his 
way to the wells at any cost, leaving a small garrison 
to protect the baggage and camels in the zeriba ; 
the wells once won, to send back for the baggage, 
feed and water the column, and push on for Metem- 
meh at once. The ground over which we should 
have to advance was far too broken to allow of 
quick manoeuvring in case of sudden attack. He 
knew that the only formation to successfully resist 
vastly greater numbers was a square ; so accordingly 
a square was ordered to be formed. 

In the centre of the square were to be some thirty 
camels for carrying water, ammunition, and wounded 
men, driven by their respective natives. These dis- 
positions made, Sir Herbert quietly came and sat 



126 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

down amongst us, " waiting to give the niggers 
another chance," as he said. As they did not take 
advantage of it, the square was rapidly formed up, 
and at about 10 o'clock we moved out, keeping to 
the high ground. 

A redoubled fire from the Arabs showed that 
they saw our movements, and soon the hills were 
alive with them, running parallel to our square and 
keeping up a hot fire all the time. Men fell right 
and left, and the whistling of the bullets overhead 
was incessant. Skirmishers were accordingly told 
off to the front and flanks, and they succeeded in 
greatly reducing the enemy's fire. Just at this time 
our doctor, Magill, was hit by a bullet in the leg 
as he was attending a wounded skirmisher outside 
the square, and he and his patient were brought 
in with some difficulty. We moved at a slow march 
all the time, in order to allow of the guns and 
camels keeping up. And terrible ground it was for 
them to get over without disarranging the square : 
rocky hillocks cut up in places with deep, sandy 
water-ruts, and very much uphill and downhill, 



128 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

though the leader did his best to keep on level 
ground. Frequent halts had to be made to enable 
the doctors to attend to the wounded and mount 
them in cacolets. The camels could not keep up, 
or together, and were a terrible trouble, sometimes 
throwing the rear face into great confusion. 



Mounted In r antry Coldstream Scots 

X >< > 



Infantry 



5th Lancers 
i6th do. 



Royals 
Scots Greys 



l|| Guns, R.A. i 

Camels, Doctors, 
Wounded, &c. 



Camels. 



Camel?. 



Grenadiers 



Marines 



4th D. Guards Naval ist 2nd Life Guards Sussex 
5th do. Brigade Blues 



PLAN OF THE SQUARE AT ABU KLEA. 



After we had proceeded thus for nearly an hour, 
the stretchers and cacolets getting fuller every minute, 
a number of green and white flags on long poles 



CHARGE OF THE ARABS. 129 

were seen some way off in the grass to the left 
front. Much speculation took place as to what they 
could be some took them for a burial ground, and 
others for the position of the enemy's camp. The 
main body of the enemy was supposed to be on 
the right, since most of the firing had come from 
that flank, and the ground there seemed more favour- 
able to attack from. 

So much did every one expect the attack from 
the right, that the officer commanding the Mounted 
Infantry skirmishers on the left flank (Campbell, of 
the 6oth) sent a message to Sir Herbert, asking if 
he might go and take the mysterious flags. The 
general was on the point of giving leave, when 
suddenly a hundred more flags uprose in the same 
place, and the wady became alive and black with 
vast masses of Arabs, who had apparently sprung 
out of the ground. The square happened to be 
halted at the foot of a stony knoll when the enemy 
thus appeared, so it was moved some thirty yards 
on to a better position on top, and the skirmishers 
at once called in. With wild yells the Arabs (still 



130 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

about 500 yards off) moved across our left front, 
in column of companies, and disappeared for a 
moment behind the rocks and grass in the wady. 
In half a minute they reappeared, close on the left 
rear, left wheeled into line, and charged. So quickly 
was this done, that the skirmishers had barely time 
to run in before the Arabs were upon them, one 
unfortunate man of the 6oth, an officer's servant 
who was not in good training, being speared before 
he reached the square. 

In moving the square up this hillock several 
tired camels, with their loads of wounded, had been 
left outside, lying down at the foot of the slope ; 
the native drivers could not get them on to their legs, 
so bolted into the square to save their own skins when 
the enemy charged. It looked like certain death for 
the wounded, and no doubt would have proved so if 

R (an officer of the G.C.R.) and one or two other 

privates of the H.C.R. had not gallantly rushed out 
and hauled several of the camels in by main force 
just as the Arabs reached the square. The moment 
the skirmishers were in, a terrific fire began from 



THE FIGHT. 131 

the left and rear faces upon the Arabs, volleys 
rapidly merging into independent firing. I was with 
my company on the right front, and anxiously my 
men looked for something beyond a stray skirmishing 
nigger to shoot at. The camels inside the square 
obstructed all vision to the fighting flank, and we 
had already concluded that the fire of the Heavies 
and Mounted Infantry had swept back the Arabs, 
when suddenly a terrific shock was felt, accompanied 
by redoubled yells and firing. I found myself lifted 
off my legs amongst a surging mass of Heavies 
and Sussex, who had been carried back against the 
camels by the impetuous rush of the enemy. Telling 
the men to stand fast, I forced my way through 
the jam to see what had happened. Heavies^ 
Sussex, and camels of all sorts were pressing 
with terrific force on our thin double rank, and it 
seemed every moment as if it must give ; but it didn't. 
On getting through to the other side of the press, 
a gruesome sight was seen. Immediately in front were 
swarms of Arabs, in desperate hand-to hand fight with 
our men, hacking, hewing, hamstringing, and yelling 



K 2 



132 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

like a crowd of black devils on a ground literally piled 
up with dead and dying. On the right the Mounted 
Infantry were pouring in their fire with deadly effect, 
the niggers falling in hundreds. At my side Dr. 
Briggs, minus his helmet, his patients all killed or 
scattered, had drawn his sword, and was frantically 
endeavouring to rally the men near him. I ' shouted 
myself hoarse trying to get the men to aim carefully, 
but my voice was lost in the din. A rain of bullets 
whizzed dangerously close past my head from the rifles 
behind into the fighting mass in front. Numbers 
of the Arabs went down in that hail, and I fear 
several Englishmen too. Everything depended on the 
front and right faces standing fast. And well did they 
stick to it. With the rear rank faced about, the men 
stubbornly withstood the pressure, and, do what they 
would, the Arabs could not break in the solid mass of 
men and camels. 

It was too hot to last. At length the enemy, 
almost annihilated, wavered, turned, and retreated 
sullenly, our men shooting them down in scores till 
they disappeared out of range over the hill-tops. 



134 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Many of these brave fanatics turned and charged the 
square singly, being of course shot down long before 
they reached it. When we saw the Arabs in full 
retreat the General gave the word, and we raised 
cheer after cheer a little attention evidently not 
appreciated by the enemy, many of whom turned and 
shook their fists at us. Oh, that we could have 
wheeled the front face up on the right of the Mounted 
Infantry and slated them a bit more ! Hardly one of 
the enemy would have escaped. 

This, however, was not to be thought of; for we 
expected another immediate charge from the right, 
since certainly not all the enemy we had seen had 
taken part in the unsuccessful attack. Very soon there 
was a cry of " Close up ! close up ! they're coming 
again ! " However, they didn't come, and contentec 
themselves with a dropping long - range fire from 
behind their rocks. Every now and then one of their 
marksmen would creep down into the broken ground 
and take pot-shots at the square till he was pottec 
himself. One of our best men (Ormiston, 3rd Grena- 
diers) was shot by one of these brutes. As he was 



AFTER THE FIGHT. 135 

handing his water-bottle to another man a bullet 
passed through his friend's hand and pierced his chest. 
He fell on to me, a torrent of blood gushing out of his 
mouth. No use trying to staunch it ; he was dead in 
less than a minute. 

At length the enemy on the hills melted away, and 
the fire gradually ceased. Occasionally an Arab, 
seeing everything was lost, would come out into the 
open, and expose himself purposely to the bullets of 
the infidels, and once a horseman charged my com- 
pany by himself, and got quite close before he was 
dropped. He was coming straight my way, and I was 
expecting to get a pot-shot at him, when, to my dis- 
gust, a marine bowled him over an awful " crumpler " 
at an unfairly short range for a rifle. 

The square was now moved on to a space clear of 
dead bodies, and the gaps were closed up. Now that 
the enemy had disappeared, we had leisure for the sad 
task of collecting and burying the dead before moving 
on to the wells. The officers of the G.C.R. collected 
together for a moment, and we discovered to our 
mutual joy, that, with the exception of poor Magill, 



136 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

not one of us had been touched. So far so good, but 
on hearing the death-returns, we were horrified to find 
that so many of our friends in other regiments had 
fallen. Nine officers killed and nine wounded, chiefly 
among the Heavies, with whom we had come out, 
and whom we knew so well, made a fearful gap 
amongst our friends. Burnaby, Gough (of the Royals), 
Wolfe, Carmichael, Law, Atherton, Darley, Piggott, 
and De Lisle,* all killed ! St. Vincent not expected 
to live ; and seven or eight others, equally well known 
to us, wounded ! 

It was an awful slaughter. On the knoll imme- 
diately outside the square lay the bodies of eighty-six 
Englishmen, waxlike in death and covered with dust 
and blood. Hardly a square foot but was hidden by 
the stiffening carcases of men and camels : here 

B 's corpse, the head nearly severed from the 

body ; there C 's, a bullet-hole through the face, 

and a gaping spear-wound in the neck it was 

horrible. I did not care to look on any more, lest I 

should come across the mutilated bodies of more 

* These last two sailors. 



THE BATTLE-FIELD. 137 

friends. Dead Arabs in hundreds strewed the ground, 
mostly with a fiendish expression on their still faces. 
Here and there the Mahdi's uniform and straw cap 
proclaimed one of superior rank ; but the greater part 
by far were clad in (originally) white garments, wound 
round the waist, and fastened over the left shoulder 
the shaven head crowned with a white cotton skull 
cap. In some cases their clothes had caught fire from 
the nearness of the discharge of the rifles, and several 
of the heaps of bodies were smouldering. Arms of all 
sorts and broken banner-staves were scattered over 
the field ; spears in hundreds, some of enormous 
length, javelins, knobkerries, hatchets, swords and 
knives,* but no shields of any sort ; for the Mahdi, 
knowing their uselessness against bullets, had ordered 
them to be left at home, in order to give greater 
freedom for using the other weapons. 

Fatigue parties were now sent out to collect the 
arms and ammunition strewn about, and to destroy all 

* I even found a Birmingham bill-hook, with the trade-mark on 
it, in an Arab's hand, sharp as a razor and covered with blood and 
hair : how it got there I know not, so I confiscated it for the use of 
our mess. 



138 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

useless weapons, which was done by breaking up the 
spears, damaged rifles, etc., arid burning them. As 
many of the dead as possible were buried, and the 
rest left for a future occasion. 

The men were now suffering greatly from thirst, 
yet there was hardly a drop to give them, nearly all 
the spare water being used for the wounded. Several 
men fainted, and many more suffered acutely, their lips 
turning black, and their tongues swelling so as to cause 
great pain. It was high time to push on to the wells, 
so the word was given, and the square moved slowly 
on very slowly, in order to allow the camels and 
wounded to keep up : 106 wounded was far too large 
a number to be carried on the few camels we had left 
who, indeed, were required for medical stores and 
ammunition ; so my company, as being the strongest, 
was told off to carry them on stretchers. The 
men were fearfully weak themselves through fatigue 
and thirst, but stuck to their burdens manfully all 
the time. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

The wells of Abu Klea A cold night Baggage and food at last 
Off again A terrible night-march. 

IT was now nearly five o'clock ; the men were dead 
beat, the square was straggling terribly, and the wells 
were nowhere to be seen. The iQth had been sent 
ahead on their overworked little horses to look for them, 
but on this large plain, cut up into wadies and covered 
with scrub, no one knew whereabouts to look. Sir 
Herbert, in despair, was just going to give the word 
to retire all that weary way back to the baggage- 
zeriba, where a small supply of water was left, when 
the joyful intelligence came that the Hussars had 
found the wells, some way off to the left. 

The wounded were immediately carried straight 
off thither, whilst the rest of the force, in perfect 
discipline, was halted a short way off, to wait till the 
water could be apportioned out to each corps. 



140 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

The wells were simply deep holes in the sand, 
thirty or forty in number, and mostly with one or two 
feet of water in them. One of my men, a great six- 
foot-three private, called Rooke, who had taken me 
under his special protection, soon picked me out in the 
dusk, and presented me with a huge calabash full 
of cool milky-tea-coloured water, of the consistency of 
thin mud. It was delicious! I drank till I was full 
to the brim, and then felt annoyed that I couldn't hold 
any more, for the roof of my mouth wasn't soft yet. 

When everybody had drunk their fill, a large 
square was formed for the night on some rising ground 
close to the wells, for the chances of another attack 
were not yet by any means over. Three hundred 
volunteers were then called for from the Heavies, the 
Mounted Infantry, and ourselves, to march back to the 
zeriba and bring up all the baggage before daylight. 
They were soon started off, and then began for us 
quite the coldest night we ever experienced ; the 
wounded must have suffered fearfully. Of course we 
had no extra clothing or covering of any sort, nothing 
between us and the freezing night air but a shirt and 



NIGHT AFTER THE ACTION. 141 

a very thin serge jacket. I tried to get shelter between 
two camels, but directly I began to get warm the 
brutes would feel me and lurch over on top of me, till 
I was driven into the open again. Hardly a wink of 
sleep did one of us get that night, and fearfully hungry 
we were too. Half-a-dozen of us huddled together, 
giving up sleep as a bad job, and made the time pass 
by sucking in turns at a solitary pipe a great pre- 
ventive of pangs of emptiness in the stomach region. 
At last the cold grey dawn began to break, and, glad 
of any movement, we stood to our arms. 

No enemy had been seen or heard by our outposts, 
so the column was formed up and the men allowed to 
fall out. A herd of lean cattle left by the enemy 
was soon discovered not far off, and all the native 
drivers were ordered out in pursuit. The niggers 
kicked up such a diabolical hurroosh in trying to catch 
them, that they only succeeded in scattering them far 
and wide, and the Hussars had to ride after them. 
The cows went such a pace that the ponies could not 
keep up, and the only way to get fresh beef was to 
shoot a few and cut them up on the spot. Many dead 
Arabs were found in the wadies, and a good deal of 



142 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE, 

their property too, including a fine pair of those 
infernal tom-toms, thrown away down a cleft. There 
was plenty of evidence about in the shape of pottery 
and old fires, to show that a considerable number of 
the enemy had been here for some time. Later on, 
an entire village of tumble-down straw shanties was 
discovered a little way back, bestrewn with utensils of 
all sorts, sufficient to prove that thousands of Arabs 
must have been encamped there for a fortnight, and 
yet our spies had reported the road quite clear to 
the river ! 

At about seven o'clock the baggage was reported 
in the distance, and, to our happiness, it arrived shortly 
afterwards ; at last we should have something to eat. 
The camels were quickly knee-lashed and unloaded, 
and, after gathering as much grass as they could for 
the poor beasts, the men set to in earnest to prepare 
their dinners off the few cattle that had been caught. It 
seems that the baggage- zeriba had not been attacked at 
all, the advance of the square having drawn all the 
Arabs out of the hills after it. Right glad were those 
left behind to see us again. Their suspense when 



FOOD AT LAST. 143 

they heard the tremendous firing going on, out of 
sight, must have been excessively unpleasant. 

The wells, meanwhile, were being taxed to their 
utmost to supply enough water to fill all our water- 
tanks and skins. Every man had been allowed to fill 
his water-bottle, and then a guard placed over the 
wells. Pumps and hose were rigged up, but very soon 
the supply only came out in the shape of liquid yellow 
mud. Time was required to allow the water to filter 
into the holes again, yet time was of the utmost im- 
portance to us. 

With ravenous joy we welcomed our food after our 
fast of just two days (the breakfast under fire the day 
before was hardly to be called a meal), and filled our- 
selves up with feelings of bliss. If this sort of thing 
went on, nobody could tell when our next meal would 
be, so it was best to lay in stores for emergencies. 
Parade was ordered for four o'clock, which left us just 
time for digestion and a short snooze. Messengers 
were then sent off back to Korti with despatches of 
the battle, and many took this opportunity of sending 
telegrams off to their friends in England. 



144 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

All the wounded were to be left behind, with a 
certain proportion of stores, and a small garrison of 
Sussex to defend the wells, the rest to make their way 
at once to the river. Such were the orders ; so a 
stone enclosure was begun, and hospital tents set up 
for those who were to stay. 

By 4.30 we were under way, the General having 
given out that we should only proceed a short distance 
and then halt for the night. I was bad luck to it ! 
told off in charge of the regimental stores and bag- 
gage, which consisted of seven strings of three camels 
each, the foremost camel of each string being be- 
stridden by a mongrel nigger. With eight men of 
the G.C.R. to guard the lot, and plenty of light, it 
looked easy enough going. I little knew what the 
night would bring forth. 

The track led over a low ridge down on to a huge 
bare plain, with low scrub and trees just visible in the 
distance. We expected to reach these, and then halt 
for the night; but the sun went down, the dusk became 
darkness, we arrived at the scrub, and yet no orders to 
halt. Instead of this, the column was shortened and 



THE PLEASURES OF A NIGHT-MARCH. 145 

broadened, and perpetual orders were sent back to 
close up in rear. Not a light of any sort was allowed ; 
orders were passed on in whispers, and strict silence 
enjoined. It looked very much like a forced march. 
Past ten o'clock, and no halt ! It was evident that 
Sir Herbert intended to reach the river by the next 
morning, and we were to march the twenty-six miles 
intervening during the night. 

The perpetual hurrying up of the rear Transport, 
and lagging of many of the tired-out and famished 
camels in front, now began to create horrible confusion, 
and, once scattered, the column got frightfully " mixed;" 
in the darkness it was useless to try to find one's own 
men and camels, and Transport, medical stores, regi- 
mental baggage, Blue-jackets, niggers, and Com- 
missariat all got hopelessly entangled. My niggers 
went to sleep, and let their camels drift ; the guard got 
separated and lost in the vast mass of animals and men; 
I wasn't allowed to shout or bugle them together : 
altogether my charges were in a nice state. I kept 
my eye on one of my niggers with a string of water 
camels, and vowed I wouldn't lose sight of him ; 
somebody got between me and him, and in another 



WE LOSE OUR WAY. 147 

moment he had vanished into the blurry outline of 
the column it was a hopeless business. To make 
natters worse, we found ourselves at one moment 
n a dense wood of thorny mimosa trees, which played 
he blazes with the loads ; and I can swear that several 
imes the Pole Star was in front of us, instead of 
he Southern Cross ! We were evidently going in 
i circle, for occasionally the advance-guard was sur- 
rised by finding itself following the rear-guard. 
The reason was that Sir Herbert had purposely 
rone off the track, intending to take a more southerly 
ourse, so as to strike the river some way below 
VIetemmeh. Abu Loolah, our friend the robber-chief, 
ad guided the column at first, but the other guides 
nsisted that he was going too far south. Accordingly 
hey were told to go ahead themselves, and succeeded 
n misleading us and losing our way completely.* 

It was bitterly cold, and every one was fearfully 
leepy. Men in dozens went to sleep on their 
:amels, and strayed from the column, one or two 

* So much out of its bearing was the column that it was never 
liscovered what mimosa wood it was we got lost in no one ever 
:ame across it afterwards ! 

L 2 



148 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

never being seen again. Thank God, there were 
no enemy about that night ; if the column had) 
been attacked, slaughter must have ensued. Many 
times was passed up from the rear the word to 
" Halt in front," whilst the rear-guard picked up 
stragglers and reloaded broken-down stores ; the^ 
front of the column then halted by order of the 
General, whilst the rest closed up on to it, and 
snatched a few seconds' slumber, till " All right 
in rear" set the whole in motion once more. 
Gladly did we hail the first streaks of dawn in the 
black sky, expecting to find ourselves close to the 
river by the time the sun was up. It grew lighter 
and lighter, and eagerly we looked ahead, but no 
signs of the river yet. My camels drifted together 
again, more by good luck than good management, 
and soon we were in our proper places in the re- 
formed column. One of my niggers, a hoary-headed 
old sinner like a dried-up chimpanzee, was reported 
to me as having cut his two rear camels adrift in 
order to go to sleep more comfortably ; so he got 
the koorbash, and was condemned to walk all the rest 
of the way, whilst the others rode. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Formation of a zeriba Sir Herbert mortally wounded Seven 
hours under fire Advance of the square Action of Abu 
Kru The Nile at last. 

THE country we were now on was a vast gravelly 
slope, covered with scrub and tussocks, evidently 
reaching in the distance down to the Nile, though 
we could not yet see it. We hoped to strike it 
unseen by the enemy some way below Metemmeh, 
so as to get water and rest awhile before attacking. 
But our hopes were disappointed. As we advanced, 
the Hussars brought in word that crowds of Arabs 
were scattered about the bush, and had already 
opened fire on them. The column still moved on, 
but when about four miles off the river (still invisible) 
such numbers of sharpshooters were seen in the 
grass round about, that the General determined to 
rest and feed the men a bit before engaging the 
enemy. Accordingly, the column was closed up and 



150 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

halted on a bare gravelly space in the scrub, where 
the ground rose into a low knoll. In the far distance 
was just to be seen a broad green belt of cultivation, 
where presumably the river ran, and on the left 
front a large straggling town, which could only be 
Metemmeh. Now came the order to unload all 
the stores and build them up round the knoll. It 
was very tantalising having thus to halt and make 
another zeriba when so close to the river, and many 
growls were heard. " Why can't we go right ahead 
to the Nile ? We can do without breakfast for 
another five or six hours." However, the British 
soldier is never happy without his grumble, and 
very soon the camels were jammed up and tightly 
knee-lashed, and a wall of biscuit-boxes and saddles 
built up round them. Bullets kept spattering in 
on us from invisible marksmen in the long grass all 
the time, and many was the " Fft, fft ! " into the mass 
of camels. A company was therefore extended 
along a low ridge fifty yards in front of the zeriba 
to try to keep down the fire, but it was hard work ; 
the only objects to aim at were the puffs of smoke 
in the scrub, seven or eight hundred yards off, or 



SIR HERBERT WOUNDED. 151 

a dark figure now and then creeping from bush to 
bush. 

It was now nearly nine o'clock, and just about 
this time happened a terrible disaster. Sir Herbert 
Stewart, while superintending the arrangements of 
the zeriba, received a bullet in the groin, and dropped 
mortaLy wounded. It was a fearful blow to us all, 
when we heard of it. Leaving out of the question 
the personal feelings of the whole force, who were, 
every one of them, devotedly attached to him, it 
was a catastrophe at a most critical time, since it 
left the column unexpectedly without a head. 
Burnaby, next in seniority, had fallen at Abu Klea, 
and so the command devolved on Sir Charles Wilson, 
the dipJomatic messenger intended by Wolseley to 
communicate with Gordon at Khartoum. The sad 
news was kept strictly secret, and only by degrees 
did it ooze out amongst the officers that poor Sir 
Herbert had received his death wound, and that 
his death was only a question of a few hours. 

We now received orders to occupy a ridge of 
ground about sixty yards distant on our right front, 
and build a tiny work of boxes and saddles there 



152 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

to command the ground beyond it. Volunteers, 
officers and men, ran out with boxes across the bullet- 
swept ground, and the fortlet soon rose to a re- 
spectable height. Several of the builders were 
knocked over here, and I personally had a very near 
squeak of it. I happened to be just at this time 
with my company on the ridge, covering the building 
of that work, and was directing the shooting to the 
best of my abilities. Every one of my men was 
extended flat on his stomach, potting anything in 
the shape of niggers or smoke ; so as the enemy's 
bullets were whistling close over our heads, I pru- 
dently assumed the same position at first, but found 
I couldn't bring my field-glasses to bear comfortably. 
Accordingly I sat up, and was prospecting round 
satisfactorily, when suddenly I received a violent 
blow in the pit of the stomach. I staggered up, 
and immediately fell down flat my wind was en- 
tirely gone, so I lay and gasped. A couple of my 
men immediately rushed up, caught hold of me, and, 
at a sepulchral "Take him away/' from C , bore me 
off between them at a fast " double " for the hospital. 
My first idea was that I was badly hit, but some- 



A NARROW SQUEAK. 153 

how I didn't seem to feel the bullet inside ; the 
urther, too, I went, the better I felt, and by the 
me we arrived at the zeriba I had recovered 
ust sufficient breath to gasp out to the men that I 
idn't think I was very bad. So I clambered over 
e wall of saddles and things, and sat down to get 
y wind and see what damage had been done. It 
as chiefly to my clothes ; the brass button that 
ad saved my life was carried away, ditto watch 
d compass (that had been connected by a steel 
ain through the button-hole), and my pockets were 
alf torn away. Further investigation only revealed 
large bruise just over my wind. It must have 

een a ricochet bullet (C said he saw it hit the 

round in front of me) coming obliquely, but, " racco " 
r not, it was as near a squeak as I ever wish 
have. 

When the biscuit-box work was finished, it was 
arrisoned with about twenty men, and the rest of us 
retired into the zeriba. It was now past eleven, yet 
no signs of advancing. The enemy had largely 
increased in numbers, and a continuous rain of bullets 
went into and over the camel zeriba. Every other 



f54 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

minute a dead or wounded man was carried past on a 
stretcher. The men were all fagged out, and although 
told to help themselves from the boxes in front of 
them, preferred trying to sleep to eating red stringy 
beef and dry biscuits, with no water to wash it down. 
I tried in vain to get a wink of sleep between two 
camels, but the brutes wouldn't let me, and shifted 
their positions whenever I got comfortable. Scores of 
camels were shot ; you would hear that sickening " Fft ! " 
go into a camel close by you, and see the poor brute 
patiently lying there, with a stream of blood trickling 
from his shoulder or neck. After a time his head 
would drop lower and lower, till the neck got that 
peculiar kink in it that betokens the approach of the 
end, and over he would roll, quite silently. They 
never bellowed or tried to move when they were hit ; 
nothing but an occasional shake or shiver would tell 
that a bullet was in them. Cameron, the special 
correspondent of The Standard, was killed just about 
this time ; poor St. Leger Herbert was found stiff and 
cold amongst the camels shortly afterwards another 
valuable man gone. 

At length, about 3.30, Sir Charles made up his mind 



I $6 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

that it was no use waiting for reinforcements,* and 
that the whole force could not fight its way successfully 
to the river, encumbered as it would be with wounded 
and stores ; the only alternative was the risky one of 
half of us fighting our way on foot, whilst the baggage 
remained behind with the other half. It was neck or 
nothing, for the fighting force could only muster some 
900 bayonets, and the enemy were swarming round in 
thousands. I must say it looked as risky a business as 
it well could ; we all felt it was exceedingly doubtful 
if the two halves of the force would ever see each 
other again, but yet it was the only thing possible to 
be done. Accordingly a square was formed as shown 
opposite, and moved out from the camel zeriba in a 
southerly direction, keeping as much as possible in the 
open, so as to repel any sudden attack from the scrub. 
Just before starting, our Adjutant (Crutchley) was 
dropped with a bullet through his right thigh, and his 
place was filled by Herbert. Leaving behind us 
part of the Heavies, the iQth, the guns, Blue-jackets, 
stores, and ammunition, we advanced at the slow 

* Lord Wolseley was popu'arly supposed to be following not far 
behind, with more troops. 



ADVANCE OF THE SQUARE. 157 

march as before, to enable the camels and wounded 
to keep up. Numbers of men dropped, and amongst 
the G.C.R. happened many narrow escapes. One 
of my men (Woods) had armed himself with a spade, 



Marines 



Grenadiers 



Mounted 

Infantry 



Camels 



Camels 



Do. tors, Wounded, 
etc. 



Coldstream 



Scots 



Sussex Heavies 

PLAN OF THE SQUARE AT ABU KRU. 



since a sprained shoulder prevented him from using 
his rifle. He held it up before his face, and laughingly 
remarked to a friend that it would make a capital 
cover, when bang came a bullet against it and 
knocked it out of his hand ! Another man was 
knocked down by a bullet lodging in his bandolier. 



1 58 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

M got one through his helmet, D one on his scab- 
bard, and N a stone, which nearly broke his ankle. 

I happened to be walking alongside C , when sud- 
denly he gave a terrific jump, and clapped his hand to 
his face : a bullet had skimmed through his beard, 
and passed over his shoulder. Still we moved on, 
slowly, very slowly, avoiding all dips and hollows 
which might contain niggers, and every now and 
then halting to send a few volleys wherever the smoke 
appeared thickest. At length the Arabs began to 
collect in large bodies in front, and the long-wished-for 
moment arrived. " Thank God ! they're going to 
charge ! " was the sigh of relief on all sides ; and on 
they came. Several thousand had massed on the 
slopes on the left front, and they came straight at 
us. The square was at once halted, and volley after 
volley poured into the black mass. As they got within 
400 yards, the volley-firing became a continuous roar 
of musketry, and hundreds fell beneath the well- 
directed fire of the Mounted Infantry and ourselves. 
Aiming low, and firing steadily as on parade, our men 
mowed the Arabs down like grass ; not one got within 
eighty yards of the square. At last the masses of the 



REPULSE OF THE ARABS. 



159. 



enemy in reserve, seeing the fate of the charging lines, 
wavered, scattered, and bolted over the hills towards 
Metemmeh, and the river was won ! 

After a short halt, to allow of a reconnaissance 
being made as to the best point to strike the Nile, the 




AFTER ABU KRU (PRIVATE ROOKE, OF THE QUEEN'S COMPANY).* 

square moved on again, and soon in the growing 
dusk a silver streak was visible here and there in 
amongst the green belt, but still a couple of miles off. 
The order was now given to push on with all possible 
speed, to reach it before dark, but yet our pace could 

<r The bayonet must have been bent by a bullet, as we did not 
come to close quarters ; the man himself could not account for it. 



160 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

not exceed a slow march. The sun went down, and 
the twilight became almost darkness. Thank good- 
ness, a two-days-old crescent was shining in the sky, 
and its feeble light guided us through the gravel hills 
right to the brink of the Nile. 

The men were as wild with joy as their exhausted 
condition would allow. The wounded were held up for 
one look at the gleaming river, and then hurried to the 
banks. Still, perfect discipline was observed. Not a 
man left his place in the ranks until his company was 
marched up to take its fill. The front face having 
drunk itself full was marched to relieve the rear face, 
and so on, in order that, in case of attack, no flank 
should be left undefended. However, all was as silent 
as the grave, and the enemy disturbed us not. In the 
distance was still heard the faint noise of tom-toms, 
but most of us were too sleepy to pay any attention to 
them. A chain of sentries was established on the 
slopes overlooking the square, and in two minutes the 
force was fast asleep. So dead tired was every one 
that I verily believe a horde of yelling niggers would 
not have awakened us. It was a sleep as is the sleep 
of a hog ; even the cold could not keep us awake. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Back to the zeriba The whole force at last on the river-bank. 

BEFORE day broke next morning we stood to our 
arms in expectation of a possible attack, but whop the 
sun rose it showed no signs of the enemy. Thoroughly 
refreshed by our long sleep, and with an unlimited 
supply of water close by, the first thing to be done 
was to bring the rest of the force to the enjoyment 
of like blessings. But before that could be done 
a strong natural position had to be found wherein 
to encamp the column when it arrived at the river. 
Accordingly, part of the Heavies, Mounted Infantry, 
and ourselves " fell in," and advanced in extended 
order through several villages on the high ground in 
the direction of Metemmeh, feeling our way carefully. 
Not a soul was to be seen ; everything had been 
taken out of the huts food, utensils, forage, every- 
thing ; the villages were quite deserted. 



162 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

After some deliberation, we were halted in a 
village (or rather collection of mud huts) called Gubat, 
on a slope some four hundred yards from the river, 
and part of the Heavies told off to entrench themselves 
there, and hold it at all risks. The programme was 
then given out that the wounded were all to be fetched 
up to the village from the position of the night before, 
and the Heavies were to defend them, whilst the rest 
of the advanced force returned with water to the 
camel-zeriba, and brought up the whole of the stores 
and troops remaining. There was a question as to 
whether we ought not to attack Metemmeh at once, 
and give the Arabs another good hiding before they 
had recovered from the one of the day before. How- 
ever, it was deemed too risky ; Metemmeh was just 
about five times the size it was expected to be ; we 
could only have mustered some six hundred men, 
hadn't had any food for just forty-eight hours, and 
street-fighting would have entailed many wounded, 
for whom we had no transport. The idea was there- 
fore wisely given up, and we started for the zeriba 
directly the camel-tanks were brought up filled 



BACK TO THE ZER1BA. 163 

With the water-camels in mass in the centre, 
flanked by the G.C.R. at the right front and Mounted 
Infantry at the left rear corner in squares, we pushed on 
fast over the two miles intervening, keeping a sharp 
look-out for the enemy. Plenty of them were seen 
about the field of yesterday's battle, hurrying to and 
from Metemmeh like a swarm of ants ; but as they 
seemed only to be carrying off the wounded and dead, 
we did not fire on them. Through our glasses we 
could see them bearing beds and water about, men, 
women, and children, all in a great state of excite- 
ment, especially when we passed between them and 
Metemmeh. They seemed quite disorganised, and 
lid not attempt to attack us, so we continued our 
larch in peace till we got close up to the zeriba. 
'hen many of those left there all night hurried out 
and welcomed us heartily, and cordial were the greet- 
ings indulged in all round. They must have had 
a bad time of it in the zeriba ; they told us that when 
the square went out it looked like going to certain 
death. Swarms of the enemy that we could not see 
rose out of the scrub and followed us. The guns and 

M 2 



1 64 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Gardner did their level best, and dispersed many 
of them, but when the square disappeared from sight r 
and violent firing was heard for some moments, and 
then silence, they said the suspense was awful. The 
only way they knew that we were safe was that they 
were not attacked after that, so concluded we had 
arrived in safety at the river. 

"All's well that ends well!" and in a very short 
time the whole force was hard at work wolfing down 
a good solid meal of tea and bully. After that orders 
were given to load up all the camels left with the 
stores, and return as soon as possible. The work 
was hard, for all stores, boxes, and saddles were built 
up round the zeriba, and over a hundred of the camels 
were dead. The contents of many of the boxes were 
lying scattered about, and the camels were stiff and 
tired with fatigue and hunger ; added to this, many 
of the saddles were broken, so several hours elapsed 
before everything was ready to start. I looked 
eagerly for my own camel, Potiphar, and found him 
calmly gazing about him in the same spot where I left 
him, not damaged in the least, and as bad-tempered 



STATE OF THE WOUNDED. 165 

as ever. Only my sheep-skin and blankets had dis- 
appeared, but since they had probably gone for the 
wounded I did not mind : several of the others 
had had their zuleetahs rifled, probably by the 
native drivers on the look-out for loot ; so I was in 
comparative luck. 

Our first inquiry had of course been after Sir 
Herbert, and to our delight we were told he was 
still alive, and doing well. It was a pleasant sur- 
prise, for the doctors had said he could not possibly 
live through the night. The bullet had entered 
his groin, and, passing round, had lodged under his 
spine in a, so to speak, safe place ; as long as no 
inflammation or fever set in, he was safe. The rest 
of the wounded were doing fairly well, and were 
fit to be carried to the river. I went to see poor 
Crutchley, who was in such good spirits that I had 
no idea his wound was so bad as it really was. 

The column started as soon as it was ready, all 
on foot in case of attack. After repeated halts for 
closing up, we came in sight of the Nile again, and 
the iQth Hussars dashed ahead to give their poor 



166 . WI7H THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

little horses a drink. The whole of them had been 
fifty-eight hours, and many seventy-two hours, without 
a drop of water ! The next to be watered were the 
camels, who had all been very nearly seven days 
without a drop. It was quite a pleasure seeing 
the poor brutes make for the river and stand there 
sucking it up without moving. Potiphar remained 
fourteen minutes with his nose in the water, and 
then began eating the green cotton plant all round 
us as if he would never stop. One of my baggagers 
was so much affected by the sight of the river, that 
he took a mouthful and dropped stone dead. 

It had now got pitch dark, but numbers of fires 
had been lighted in the village by the time the 
camels were all watered, so 1 tethered all my bag- 
gagers round a big heap of straw and green stuff, 
and made my way to the mess. The houses in the 
village were really quite decent, far superior to the 
dirty mud hovels which constitute a village in Lower 
Egypt. They were built of a sort of concrete and sur- 
mounted by conical or horizontal roofs of straw and 
dhurra stalk, the walls averaging about eleven feet 



SUPPER AND BED. 167 

high. The better huts were divided into two or 
more rooms, very clean and neat perhaps owing 
to every portable article having been taken away 
before we arrived. 

Orders had been issued for a parade at 4.30 next 
morning to see about taking Metemmeh ; so obviously 
the only thing to do was to have a good feed all 
round and get as much sleep as possible in the 
interval. Our indefatigable little old cook, Carlo,* had 
prepared a capital meal by the time we were ready 
for it, and in a very short time after its consumption 
most of us were fast asleep. Occasionally a house, or 
rather its roof, would catch fire, and alarm us a bit, and 
then there was a little excitement till it was put 
out, but that was all ; the enemy left us in peace. 
The night was horribly cold, and I felt the loss of my 
blankets keenly. The only thing I could get hold 
of was a straw mat, and that wasn't warm : luckily 
Jacky came sniffing about, so I got him to lie 
alongside me, and we kept each other warm till 
the morning. 

* A Maltee who had served in the Crimea. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Reconnaissance in force round Metemmeh Gordon's steamers and 
troops arrive Building forts Sir C. Wilson's start. 

AT 4.30 a.m. the force paraded, nominally for the 
purpose of taking Metemmeh, but, as it turned out, 
the manoeuvres were limited to a reconnaissance in 
force. The ground we paraded on was just outside 
Gubat, about a mile and a half south-west of 
Metemmeh, with two straggling villages between us 
and the town. The troops consisted of the Heavies, 
now reduced to about two hundred and forty, the 
Mounted Infantry, and ourselves, together with two 
guns, a few Engineers, and a proportion of ammunition 
and hospital camels ; total, about seven hundred and 
fifty of all ranks. 

The Guards' Camel Regiment and Mounted 
Infantry extended each a couple of companies, and, 
with the Heavies in reserve, we advanced slowly 



LONG-RANGE FIRE. 169 

>ver the broken ground through the villages, exa- 
lining carefully every hut : not a soul was visible 
:here, all the inhabitants having decamped the previous 
day into Metemmeh, taking with them their goods 
and chattels. As we passed through the second 
village and got in view of Metemmeh, crowds of 
Arabs were seen running about just outside the 

town. " Here's a grand chance," thought C 

the former " musketoon," who was in command of 
the extended company of Grenadiers, and he forth- 
with called out twenty of our best marksmen. " Fire 
five volleys, at 2,000 yards ready," and down they 
rent, taking careful aim at the masses of niggers, 
'he effect of the volleys was extraordinary. At 
lat enormous distance we saw, with the help of our 
glasses, some two or three Arabs drop, and all the 
;st skedaddle as fast as their legs would carry them 
ito the town, dropping their household goods as 
tey went. The moral effect must have been great, 
for in two minutes, with the help of a few shells from 
guns, they had all disappeared within the walls. 
If we had had sufficient troops, our proper course 



i;o WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

would have been to get round the town and rush 
it from the undefended side on the east ; but we could 
not afford to run the risk of being cut off from Gubat 
and our stores, so had to content ourselves with 
getting within a thousand yards and peppering it 
with our little guns. For a short time a company 
of Mounted Infantry and a few Sappers were told 
off with the guns to take up a position between 
two huts on a knoll from whence to shell the enemy 
out of his defences, but the little seven-pounders 
made no visible impression. Accordingly they were 
withdrawn, and the whole formed up in square and 
moved in a southerly direction round the town, in 
order to find a practicable place for assault. As far as 
could be seen, the enemy had loopholed all the walls, 
and had even constructed a round fortlet on our side, 
from whence they kept up a spattering fire. A com- 
pany was therefore extended in front of the square, as 
skirmishers, but could not do much in the way of 
keeping the fire down, as none of the enemy were 
visible. Our shells, too, did very little damage, for 
they went through the walls like paper, not meeting 



AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE. 



171 



sufficient resistance to cause them to explode ; when 
they did burst, they only knocked a hole in the cement 

r alls, without setting the place on fire there was 

lothing combustible bar the roofs, and, even when one 
did catch fire, for all practical purposes a hut without a 
oof was nearly as good as a hut with one. Thus half 

in hour was spent in slowly moving round the town, 
during which time nothing serious on either side was 
effected. As we got round between the town and the 
river, there was suddenly a heavy report from the 
walls, and a round stone shot, as we afterwards dis- 
covered it to be, whizzed over our heads and buried 
itself in the ground close by. This was entirely 

mexpected, and most unfair, we thought it at the time. 
However, not much time was given us to think ; for a 
icond and third followed the first, each nearer than 
the one before. The third smashed a camel's jaw, 
and fell into the square, and the fourth wounded a 
man and killed a camel. It was time to move, so the 
[uare was rapidly deployed, and, wheeling into 

>pen column, we marched back just out of range of that 
infernal Krupp gun. 



*72 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

At that moment there was a joyful shout of 
" Gordon's steamers ; " and in truth we saw the 
Egyptian flag at four mast-heads, just above the dhurra 
stalks towards the river. Not a moment was lost by 
our gallant allies ; they ran their guns on shore, and 
hastened towards us, about 200 of them. They were 
all fine men, mostly coal-black negroes, attired in a 
fez, a shirt, a cartridge-belt, and a rifle. Nothing 
could have exceeded their readiness to fight, and they 
were disgusted on learning we did not intend to take 
the town yet. It was marvellous to see what good 
soldiers Gordon's genius had made out of this rough 
material ; their little brass guns were hard at work 
alongside ours in less than three minutes from their 
appearance, whilst their Infantry spread out and kept 
up a hot fire on the town, not in the least minding the 
continual whiz of the bullets all round them. 

We all felt much cheered by the steamers arriving 
it seemed next thing to meeting Gordon himself, 
whilst finding these keen allies after our late hard work 
was morally a great relief ; besides this, they formed a 
valuable addition to our small force. The news the 



GORDONS TROOPS ARRIVED. 173- 

steamers brought was that Gordon was still holding 
out, though woefully short of provisions and men ; that 
the Mahdi was pressing him close, and also that 3,000 
of the enemy were not two days' march off Gubat, 
determined to avenge Abu Klea. Under the circum- 




USEFUL ALLIES. 



tnces, Sir Charles Wilson, after a short council, 
letermined not to assault the town, but to take up a 

:rong position at Gubat, and hold it at all hazards 
tgainst the approaching force. The guns were there- 
fore allowed to pepper away for an hour or so, to try 

id effect some damage somewhere, whilst the Infantry 

imained under cover of some rising ground in rear of 
the guns. A company of the G.C.R. was ordered to 
support the guns at the two huts aforesaid to reply to 



174 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

the enemy's fire, which had been concentrated on 
them. And just there Major Poe of the Marines was 
hit by a bullet which smashed his thigh. He would 
persist in wearing a red coat, saying his grey one was 
not fit to be seen, and this naturally attracted the Arab 
marksmen. At length we got the command to retire, 
and did so slowly, by alternate battalions, setting fire to 
the houses on the way. We were back at Gubat by noon, 
feeling that we had spent an unsatisfactory morning. 

After the men's dinner we all paraded to 
strengthen the position. Various counsels prevailed 
for a time ; but at last it was settled to build a fort at 
the river, to hold the whole force except the Guards' 
Camel Regiment, which was to establish itself in 
the village of Gubat, on the top of the slope, so as to 
prevent the enemy from taking possession of it and 
" slating " the lower fort. Accordingly all camel- 
saddles were taken to the banks, and a rough defence 
was made with them, enclosing the stores and hospital. 
A small fort was also begun by our men in the 
village, by pulling down some of the huts and building 
walls with the dbris> but not much progress could be 



ENTRENCHING OURSELVES. 175 

made before nightfall. Luckily the night passed 
without any signs of the enemy, and the next day was 
devoted to the continuance of the work. Sir C. 
Wilson had sent out one of the steamers on the 
previous afternoon, in order to find out whether the 
reported enemy were anywhere near ; but though she 
patrolled up and down the river that evening, and the 
whole of the next day, she failed to find them, so 
returned to Gubat directly she had made sure that the 
force was not likely to be immediately molested. 

Meanwhile preparations were going on for Sir 
Charles's journey to Khartoum. Coal for the steamers 
of course there was none, and the only wood to be got 
was by destroying the sakiyehs* all along the banks and 
cutting them up. This was most troublesome, for it 
entailed cutting-parties, armed covering-parties, and 
loss of much valuable time, besides which the wood 
was hard and bulky, and burned very quickly. Stores 
and arms were put on board for the plucky defenders 
of Khartoum, and by nightfall all was ready for an 
early start. 

* Water-wheels. 



i;6 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Next morning Sir Charles started at daybreak 
in two steamers, taking with him twenty of the 
Sussex, and about 150 of Gordon's blacks. In his 
messages Gordon had repeatedly said that the pre- 
sence of a few red-coats at Khartoum would work 
wonders ; so the twenty men were selected from the 
Sussex, as having been longest up country, and rigged 
out in red jumpers belonging to our men, as they 
had none of their own. They were not, as might 
be expected, a particularly good fit. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

Convoy sent back to Gakdul Wonderful cures Shaves Outpost 
duty, etc. Return of convoy. 

THE orders given to Sir Herbert by Lord Wolseley 
being that he was to establish himself strongly on 
the river, and send back a convoy for more stores, 
so as to make his station a concentrating depot 
for the final advance on Khartoum, it was 
determined to follow them out as far as possible, 
though the original orders, of course, had not 
taken into account the enormous losses in men and 
camels we had suffered. Accordingly a convoy was 
started off back to Gakdul on the evening of the 23rd, 
composed of all the camels fit to go, escorted by 300 
mounted Coldstream, Marines, Heavies, and Mounted 
Infantry. It was hard work getting the camels to- 
gether, for during the two previous days, whilst we 
were building our forts and wandering around Metem- 
meh, hundreds of the poor famished beasts had strayed 



i?8 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

in search of the forage and water they stood so much 
in need of. Scores had died, and their bodies, lying 
about rotting in the sun, did not add to the beauty 
of the scene. Those picked out as fit to go were in an 
appalling state of thinness and sore backs, but there 
was no help for it. None of the saddles had enough 
padding for their diminished humps, yet they were 
crammed on as best they might, and added much to 
the sores already there. About 400 camels were en- 
rolled in the baggage-train, and these, with the 300 
of the escort, left the force behind with barely 100 (in 
an awful state of decay) for all purposes. 

With the convoy and Sir C. Wilson's party gone, 
the grand total was reduced to about 54 officers and 
870 men, including medical staff, commissariat, natives 
of all sorts, and the remainder of Gordon's Soudanese, 
besides about 120 wounded. As may be easily 
imagined, this did not give us many spare rifles, so 
there was all the more reason for entrenching our- 
selves securely. Down at the river the lines of a strong 
parapet were laid down round the hospital and stores, 
and every one was set to work on it. In our posi- 



OUR FORT. 179 

tion at the top of the slope, the fort we had started 
was found too large for our now reduced numbers to 
hold, so three huts were selected in a convenient posi- 
tion, and walls were strongly built up of rubble and 
debris between them. The men of course grumbled at 
having to pull all their work down again ; but Tommy 
Atkins always works the better for a good growl, and 
very soon the walls began to rise in our new fort, 
officers and men all taking their share at amateur 
masonry. It was hard work, certainly, building six 
hours a day against time in the broiling sun, but I am 
certain we were all the better for it. Our fort being on 
a gravelly hill we got every puff of cool wind going, 
and no dust to speak of. We were well off, too, for 
water, having a good cool well not fifty yards from the 
fort. Down by the river-side they fared worse ; the 
ground they were on was very damp at night, whilst 
during the day they were overwhelmed with clouds 
of dust. The consequence was that the men on the 
banks got seedy, and many went into hospital, whilst 
all ours kept strong and fit, hardly one falling sick. 
When off duty we generally strolled " down 

N 2 



i8o WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

town" to the river fort to hear the latest " shaves," 
and to visit the hospital. Most marvellous air it 
was for cures : spear-wounds and bullet-holes closed 
up wonderfully quickly, and men that had been 

given up entirely recovered, 
and hobbled about in an 
extraordinarily short time. 
There were some curious 
cases. One man in the 
Heavies had received a bullet 
in the back of his neck, and 
it was cut out under his 
tongue ! Another man in 
my company, Coyne, was 
saved by his knife, which 
turned off into his flanks a 
bullet which must have other- 
wise broken his thigh. Both these men had already 
begun to struggle about, and were on the high-road 
to recovery. There were numbers of similar cases 
with which the doctors were much pleased : they 
attributed the rapid cures to the dry air. 




THE INTERPRETER OF THE 
MOUNTED INFANTRY. 



LIFE AT GUBAT. 181 



It would have been very interesting to have 
kept a diary of shaves. The most marvellous stones 
were started, and they found ready credence : that 
Wolseley was only two days off; that the Mahdi 
was dead; that 15,000 of the enemy were advancing 
from Berber, and would be here in three days ; 
that 6,000 more were coming from Khartoum ; that 
we were to attack and take Metemmeh at once ; that 
the Mahdi's troops had all bolted ; that the Berberines 
had all come over to our side everything but the 
truth. Some of us used to start shaves on purpose 

(> see them come back with variations. 
During the daytime a chain of vedettes of the 
9th Hussars was kept up round the position, and 
erpetual " potting " went on. Stray Arabs would 
sconce themselves all day at a safe distance, and 
try to pick off the vedettes, who replied at intervals 
with their carbines. None of our men were ever 
hit, and only once did a Hussar report, with much 
glee, that he had shot an Arab at 1,000 yards: 
unfortunately no one believed him, so it did not 
count as an authentic kill. At sunset the Cavalry 



182 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

came in, and we relieved them on outpost duty on 
the slopes round our fort. At first it was rather 
hard work, for we had to find (out of the G.C.R. 
alone) two subalterns and seventy men every night ; 
this, out of four subalterns and 223 men, meant 
for us only every other night in bed, which was 
somewhat fatiguing, to say the least of it. Luckily 
this system did not last long, and it was soon 
changed to one officer and twenty-four men. The 
reason why at first we had to have so many 
men out was that the chain of sentries extended 
round the whole position, river fort and all ; now 
orders were given for each fort to find its own 
sentries, a much simpler plan. Our picquet was 
therefore divided into eight posts of three men each, 
of which one man at a time was on sentry go, and 
when the officer or sergeant went his rounds (every 
hour), he took a man from each post up to the 
next, and sent him back, and so round the chain. 
These relieved themselves every two hours, thus 
obviating the necessity of N.C.O s and reliefs march- 
ing out to them, and reducing the number of 



TOM-TOMS. 183 

patrols necessary. Their orders were, in case of 
attack, not to try to resist the enemy, but to give 
the alarm and bolt back into the fort. The enemy, 
however, never appeared ; we heard afterwards they 
expected us to attack them nightly, like we expected 
them, and so confined their demonstrations to beating 
tom-toms all night outside their town. 

Those tom-toms got on one's nerves, especially 
when on outpost duty at night. You would hear 
them growing louder and louder in the darkness 
till they seemed to come quite near till you expected 
a momentary attack, and then they would die away 
again in the distance, only to advance again ten 
minutes afterwards with their infernal tap ! tap ! tap ! 
tap ! tap ! tap ! how we used to curse them ! I 
don't think they were highly approved of in Metem- 
meh either, for one morning a young black lady 
came in from the town, declaring she really couldn't 
stay there any longer, for the row that the dervishes 
made every night parading the streets with their 
tom-toms kept all decent people awake ! 

Natives used sometimes to walk in from the parts 



184 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

near, offering cattle or corn for sale, or saying they 
wished to be protected from the Mahdi, but doubtless 
many of them were spies, for they disappeared mys- 
teriously after a few days. They brought news 
too, sometimes true, generally false, about Khartoum' 
and the intentions of the Emir of Metemmeh ; but of 
course it was never safe to trust them. We wondered 
often who was really in command at Metemmeh : 
the natives always said this man, the Emir Nusri, 
but he must have had a European adviser to have 
defended the town with earthworks and small forts 
as he did. At Abu Klea three separate signallers 
swore to having seen a European in a white helmet 
and jacket and jack-boots, directing the attack of the 
enemy, and this pointed again to his existence. One 
mysterious occurrence happened. I happened to be 
on outpost duty one very dark night, when, on going 
my rounds, a sentry reported that a man had just 
come from the direction of our fort, behind him, and 
had passed through the line of sentries towards 
Metemmeh. Of course he challenged, but received 
no answer ; the third time he challenged he threatened 



FOOD SUPPLIES. 185 

to fire, when the figure answered " Friend," in (so 
the sentry said) a foreign accent, and disappeared over 
the hills towards the town. My patrol and I gave 
chase in the direction indicated, but as we could not 
"see three yards in front of us it is not surprising that 
we did not capture the gentleman in question. 

Meanwhile our stores were getting small by 
degrees and beautifully less. We had started from 
Gakdul with three weeks' provisions ; but the terrible 
waste entailed at the Abu Kru zeriba added to our 
loss in camels had already caused the daily rations 
to be reduced. Anything extra in the shape of 
food was most acceptable. I remember one night 
fat sheep innocently straying into my arms, as 

was going my rounds ; we lived on him for 
three days, and very good he was. Even with 
such strokes of luck, however, the stores would 
only last till the 2nd February ; after that we should 
have to eat our camels it was therefore doubly 
necessary to keep them in health for eating diseased 
camel did not sound appetising. 

The poor brutes had now water enough and to 



186 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

spare, but hardly anything to eat they had long ago 
devoured all vegetation within reach, and every day it 
became a harder task to supply them. Accordingly a 
strong forage-party was sent out daily with about forty 
camels, to bring back loads of green-stuff from 
wherever they could get it. This occasionally 
led to skirmishes, and battles on a small scale. 
Parties of the enemy used to hide in the dhurra, the 
other side of the river, and keep up a dropping 
fire ; sometimes they even ventured to skirmish 
around on our bank, but never came to close quarters. 
No one on our side was ever hit, so we came to 
look on these little encounters as an agreeable diver- 
sion in the morning's work. On these expeditions 
we used to loot everything we came across, but 
as all the villages near were perfectly empty, the 
spoils were generally confined to picking beans and 
lentils for the mess, and seizing as many angarebs 
(native wooden bedsteads) as we could carry off. 
The villages were far better than many I have 
seen in Egypt, and, for the matter of that, better 
than a good many at home very clean, strongly 



OUR MESS-HUT. 187 

built, plenty of room between the huts, and well 
laid out, with extra big huts for the chief man, 
the school, and the assembly-room really highly 
civilised. The amount of green-stuff brought back 
one would have thought ample for the camels ; but 
they wolfed it up and asked for more. That they 
needed it badly was plainly shown by the state of 
their bodies ; in several cases they were in such a 
terrible state that their ribs literally came through 
their skin, and became brightly polished by the 
friction of the baggage-saddles. 

Up in our fort we were fairly comfortable the 
three huts at the angles were allotted as mess hut, 
guard-room, and store-room respectively. The former 
proprietor of the mess hut had kindly left his double 
angareb in it, and this served us for a table ; in 
the tiny enclosure outside all the officers lived, each 
provided with his angareb, and at night all the men 
slept in the remaining portion of the fort. There was 
so little room over, that it was a blessing having 
twenty-five men on outpost every night, and when 
a gun and its attendant gunners were sent up, it 



1 88 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

was a very tight fit indeed. In one sense it was useful I 
being crowded like this, for it kept us warm at night, | 
the weather being horribly cold, especially just before I 
dawn. I know I wore an extra waistcoat, a great- 
coat, and two blankets at night, and even then had 1 
to wrap my water-proof sheet round me to keep warm ; j 
whilst during the day-time it got so hot, that working 
from twelve to three was out of the question unless 
there happened to be a cool breeze blowing. 

Our little fort was thus amply manned in case of I 
emergency ; but, as it happened, we were never at- 
tacked. The only notifications at night we had of 
the enemy's existence were those everlasting tom- 
toms. Once, on the evening of the 28th, we heard 
rapid intermittent firing of guns and rifles in Metemmeh, 
but put it down to some religious festival ; we were 
doomed to be badly undeceived in a very short 
time. 

On the 3ist of January, the convoy arrived from 
Gakdul, with stores, three guns, and a couple of mails, 
but, alas ! no instructions whatever from headquarters, 
and no fresh camels. Neither did they bring any 



RETURN OF THE CONVOY. 189 

news : they had not heard of or seen any of the 
enemy ; the wounded at Abu Klea were doing well, 
and had not been attacked ; St. Vincent and Guthrie 
had died of their wounds ; but that was all. Duller, 
whom we so eagerly expected to take command, had 
not turned up, and our only reinforcements were some 
more Naval Brigade and the three guns aforesaid. We 
were somewhat disappointed at these small results of 
the convoy's journey ; but still there was the fresh 
supply of food, and so far we were all safe ; so really 
there was not much to grumble at. We little knew 
what news the morrow would bring forth. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

The worst news possible Deliberations Convoy back to Gakdul 
On the march again. 

NEXT day, the ist of February, was a Sunday, and 
we all paraded* as usual for church in our Sunday-go- 
to-meeting red jumpers and trousers. It struck me 
at the time that all the staff wore a very serious look, 
but none of us were prepared for the awful news 
that they had to impart. Gradually it trickled out 
amongst the officers that the worst possible catastrophe 
had happened. Khartoum had fallen! and Gordon 
was probably killed ! 

Our first feeling was that, if the news were true, 
the object of the expedition was gone ; that all our 
fighting and the lives of so many of our men had been 
thrown away for nothing ; and that, as usual, the 
Government had sent us out too late ! Our second, 
that we were in (so to speak) rather a hole ; that the 
besieging hordes of the Mahdi were now let loose, 
and were not improbably within measurable distance 



FALL OF KHARTOUM. 191 

of us, thirsting for an opportunity for avenging Abu 
Klea. Wolseley, we knew, had not enough spare 
troops to reinforce us sufficiently to make headway 
against the thousands of the enemy, and even if he 
had, couldn't bring them up in time ; the river column 
was not expected for at least another month, and our 
provisions would certainly not last more than a fort- 
night or so ; altogether it was not a happy prospect. 
In answer to our eager inquiries as to particulars, 
we learnt that when Sir Charles Wilson and his 
steamers had come within sight of Khartoum, they 
had found it already in possession of the enemy, and, 
on approaching, had met with such a tremendous fire 
from the banks and the town itself that it was fool- 
hardy to go any further. They therefore returned 
at once, and on going down the Shabluka cataract 
both steamers had been wrecked ; the troops were 
landed and entrenched themselves, whilst Stuart 
Wortley was sent down in a nugger to bring us the 
news and get assistance. Such, in outline, was what 
we heard. Nothing definite was known of the fate 
of Gordon. 



1 92 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

What was to be done ? It was no use waiting for 
instructions from Korti, for they might be weeks 
coming, and meanwhile we should probably be at- 
tacked. Obviously the only thing was to fortify our 
position still more strongly and wait the course of 
events. The only question was whether we should 
still further weaken our small force by sending back a 
convoy and escort for more stores. As, however, 
it was not for us personally to determine that knotty 
point, we dropped it, and discussed the main question 
in all its bearings. What a slap in the face this would 
be for the Government ! Was Gordon alive or 
dead ? If alive, he must be got hold of somehow. 
Government must be kicked out for this ! Wonder 
how many niggers will go for us at once, and when ? 
How this will raise the natives' spirits all over the 
country ! Hope Wolseley has got his plans cut and 
dried, even for this emergency ! How disgusting 
to be just too late ! And many more futile questions 
and remarks. We had to talk in whispers, for the 
men were not to be told on any account yet, though it 
would not be long before they must learn the news. 

Orders speedily came for all hands to set to work 



ANOTHER CONVOY. 193 

and strengthen our position still further, and the hard 
work soon took our minds off brooding on the subject. 
Gravel buttresses were thrown up against the walls 
of the fort outside to stop any shells that might other- 
wise have knocked down the rubble masonry, and 
a hedge of thorn-bushes was started as an outer circle 
of defence. 

By noon it had been settled to send a convoy 
back to Gakdul to bring up more stores, and orders 
were issued to start at moonrise, about eight o'clock. 
It was to be of much the same proportions as the 
first three hundred Heavies, Guards, and Mounted 
Infantry as escort to all the remaining camels fit 
for carrying a load. Besides the camels for stores, 
all the sick and wounded possible to be moved were 
to be sent back, to the number of about one hundred 
and ten. Our particular contingent consisted of one 
hundred men, Grenadiers and Scots Guards, including 
three officers besides myself. Our camels were to be 
mostly the same that had come in only the day before 
with the first convoy ; they were consequently a very 
sorry lot. The few that had remained at Gubat looked 
hardly fit to walk a mile, much less to Gakdul and 



I 9 4 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

back, but there was no help for them ; the best werej 
picked out and saddled, and by eight o'clock we werej 
all ready to start. 

I must say things looked rather bad for those whd 
were to remain ; but still, if they were attacked, we 
knew they could hold out as long as there were walls 
to cover them. The chief thing to fear was heavyj 
artillery ; and we heard the enemy were bringing upj 
big guns from Khartoum. It seemed quite on thei 
cards that we might find the Gubat garrison in small] 
pieces when we came back. But it was no good being 
dismal about it yet ; time enough for that when it 
happened. 

The convoy got off by 9 p.m., and in a very short 
time we had got out of sight of Metemmeh and any 
stray Arabs that might be prowling about to intercept us. 
My post was in command of the rear-guard, and this en- 
tailed a good deal of irritating work. Every five minutes! 
you would see a dark mass lying on the ground, whilst 
the column rapidly disappeared amongst the bushes and 
hillocks. The rear-guard's particular duty was to set 
this mass on its legs again, and flog it up, not allowing 



ON REAR-GUARD. 195 

any stragglers whatever behind. Often several camels 
were lying about at the same time, minus their bur- 
dens, and sometimes minus their drivers. When one 
had been set on its legs and flogged along, another 
would break down, and by the time he was in march- 
ing order again, the first's load would come off, and 
necessitate another three minutes' halt before he could 
proceed. Meanwhile the column was out of sight, and 
i was only to be halted by sound of the bugle till we came 
up with it. It was an aggravating duty in the extreme. 
We were very lucky in having a moon at all to 
guide us ; but still it was hard to see any distance 
through the bushes. Trees, stones, camels, grass, and 
men were all the same light-grey colour in the moon- 
light, with intensely black shadows, and the column 
moving over the soft ground made no noise whatever. 
As night went on, it got, as usual, bitterly cold. By 
three o'clock twenty-three dying camels had been left 
behind ; all the spare ones had long ago been used up, 
and yet the brutes kept on dropping. Till now the 
saddles and loads of the derelicts had been packed on 
other camels ; but now there were none left strong 

o 2 



196 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

enough to carry double loads, so saddles and all were 
left on the sand. We welcomed with joy the first 
streak of dawn, for the light would allow of the 
column getting further ahead of the rear-guard, and 
not necessitate those frequent and irritating halts. An 
hour after dawn we halted for breakfast in the wide 
tussocky plain, and devoured our short rations with 
much relish. The "bully" had cooled to delicious 
corned beef during the night, and our only complaint 
was that there was not enough. 

After an hour's halt the convoy was put in motion 
again, and by midday we had surmounted the ridge 
and arrived at the camp of Abu Klea. The place was 
a good deal altered since we had last seen it ; several 
hospital-tents were up, a small fort had been built, 
surrounded by a dangerously-close* zeriba of thorn- 
bushes, and the wells had been slightly improved. 
The small garrison of Sussex, who had already been 
apprised of the news by special messenger through to 
Korti, was very glad to see us, but had no news of the 

* On account of its liability to be fired by the enemy in case of 
attack. 



ABU KLEA AGAIN. 197 

enemy at all, or from the rear. Orders were issued at 
once to clear out all the sick and wounded possible, 
and, whilst the detachment of Guards was left behind 
jto follow on with the wounded, the M.I. and part of 
the Heavies went on with the empty transport camels 
to hurry up the stores from Gakdul, leaving a few 
Heavies to strengthen the garrison. 

The wounded convoy was not long in following 
:hem, and before night fell we had passed the battle- 
ield and got clear of the pass beyond. Scores of dead 
bodies were still lying about the country, all in a 
numrnified condition, and smelling horribly. The air 
ivas so dry that they would not decay properly, but 
>imply dried up in the hot sun and stank. On the 
ictual scene of the fight, to the left of the track, there 
#ere still piles of bodies, though hundreds had been 
aken away and buried. Those in the camp at the 
veils had told us that, for days after the fight, troops 
>f Arabs used to come down to the field after dark, 
ind bring water and food for their wounded friends 
vho were too badly hit to move. Now, however, 
here was not a sign of anything living. 



198 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

My company was now on advanced-guard instead 
of that awful rear-guard, a much better position in 
every way. As we got to the top of the pass we 
could see the transport convoy about three miles 
ahead in the vast plain ; so we pushed on in all haste 
to reach them before it got dark, and encamp to- 
gether. Twilight fell, and it was all I could do as 
advanced-guard to make out the faint camel track ; 
but my doubts did not last long. The leading convoy 
had now halted, and began to light grass fires, which 
gave us plenty of beacons in the darkness. As we 
neared them, the ground got very broken, so I 
whacked up Potiphar to find a better route for the 
wounded, who would get horribly shaken and jolted 
that way. I soon found a sort of level track, and 
then made a bee-line for the nearest fire to find out 
particulars of the encampment. The consequence was 
that I got into terrible grief. Potiphar collapsed into 
a hole, and sat there roaring ; when I had hauled him 
out by main force and flogged him on, he fell into 
another and refused to budge, so I left him there 
and made my way on foot. Eventually I reached 



BACK TO GAKDUL. 199 

the transport, and in a short time our convoy was 
brought alongside and bivouacked for the night ; tea 
was made and drunk, and soon all were wrapped in a 
well-deserved slumber. 

Next morning reveille did not sound till 6.15 
for the wounded convoy, so we arose, much re- 
freshed, in broad daylight a thing we had not 
done for three weeks. The transport convoy had 
already started, but our orders were to " take it easy " 
for the benefit of the wounded, so we grazed our 
camels and did not move off till nearly eight. The 
day's march was an easy one, till five o'clock, when 
we halted about halfway between Gebel es Sergain 
and Gebel en Nus. Next day saw us again on 
the track, which we followed to within nine miles 
of Gakdul, and halted on a fair grazing-ground for 
our poor steeds, who had had no food except this 
dry grass since leaving Gubat. The following morn- 
ing we started again at eight, and got into Gakdul 
before noon. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

Gakdul again Kababish The return journey to Gubat All's well ! 

RIGHT glad were we to see the place again, and more 
especially to hear that at last we should have definite 
orders of some sort ; for General Duller was there, and 
was coming back with us to Gubat to take over command 
of the whole advanced force. The i8th Royal Irish 
had arrived (on foot) from Korti, and they were also 
going on with us, but yet no orders had been received 
from headquarters to direct the movements of the 
Gubat force. Evidently everything was to be left 
to Buller's discretion however, we couldn't have had 
a better man. General Wood was in command at 
Gakdul of the lines of communication ; it was quite 
a pleasant novelty seeing two real live Major-Generals 
again, and we made certain that we should now push 
on with the reinforcements, and take Metemmeh at 
least, if not advance still further. 



KABABISH CAMELS. 201 

The whole of the 6th was spent in grazing and 
resting our camels, who were all of course fear- 
fully knocked up by their foodless journeys. We 
had hoped to find a large supply of fresh camels to 
take us back ; but no, the wretched false economy 




A CHILD OF THE DESERT, 



of the Government had borne fruit, and no camels 
were forthcoming. During the day a convoy of 
stores came in from Korti, escorted and driven by 
the Kababish, a friendly tribe who had been hired 
with their camels to convey stores across to Gakdul. 
It literally made my mouth water to see these mag- 
nificent, well-fed brutes swinging along, each with 



202 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

their small load balanced (not tied) on their humps, 
and driven along in troops by their masters. Real 
children of the desert these natives looked, with their 
bright copper skins, handsome features, and thick 
mops of long black hair. Some of the faces were 
really quite beautiful, reminding me of a beau-ideal 
John the Baptist : aquiline nose, large, dark eyes, 
and wild though somewhat mournful expression ; as 
for their figures and muscular development, they were 
simply perfect. I could have watched them for hours, 
but had to attend to the more prosaic duties of drawing 
rations and water for the morrow. 

We soon got our orders, which were for ourselves 
(G.C.R. detachment) and the convoy of stores to 
start next morning about nine. The i8th were to 
proceed on foot that night, directly the moon rose, at 
about i a.m., and we should catch them up by the 
evening. Duller would wait a little longer for des- 
patches from Korti, and join us at Abu Klea, where 
we were all to concentrate before going on to Gubat. 

Accordingly, next morning we got off pretty 
punctually, and marched on till evening without 



SIX CHARLES WILSON'S RETURN. 203 

finding any trace of the Irish except a drummer and 
a couple of men, who had got lost, and didn't know 
where their battalion was, or in fact anything about 
themselves or the country. Immediately afterwards 
we espied a small party in the distance trotting rapidly 
towards us; on coming up they proved to be Sir Charles 
Wilson, Stuart Wortley, and V- - D , with some 
Coldstream as escort. They could not stop long, 
but we gathered from them that Beresford had gone 
up in his steamer to rescue Sir Charles and his party 
off their island, and after a very plucky fight (during 
which he had got a round-shot through his boiler) 
had succeeded in taking them off. They also brought 
certain news of Gordon's death, he having been 
murdered coming out of his room on the 26th. And 
the steamers arrived at Khartoum on the 28th ! It was 
too disgusting ! Sir Charles was making his way 
to Korti, and had already done a good record 
sixty- four miles in twenty-seven hours, on decaying 
camels. No signs of the Irish, so at five we halted 
for the night. 

Next day we caught up the Irish in the sand drifts 



2C4 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

near Gebel en Nus ; they were being led by Cochrane 
(now Dundonald) of the 2nd Life Guards, who always 
made a bee-line per compass for his point, without 
reference to landmarks or tracks : this accounted for 
Sir C. Wilson's party missing them. After a comfort- 
able night's rest we started for the pass of Abu Klea, 
just visible in the dim distance, and reached the 
battle-field about 2 p.m. During the last four 
days the Heavies left there had raised a big cairn of 
stones over the graves of our men ; but hundreds of 
the dead enemy were still unburied. It struck me 
that there seemed more dead lying about then 
than on the actual day of the fight perhaps because 
I had a better view from the top of my camel than 
from the ground on the former occasion ; the enemy's 
loss had been estimated at about 1300, yet, though 
scores had been buried, there seemed quite that number 
still on the ground. On examining the position closely, 
it was evident that the Arabs had made grand pre- 
parations for destroying the column in the pass ; 
shelter-trenches and rifle-pits in abundance, and with 
many empty cartridge-cases in them, flanked the defile 



ABU KLEA CAMP. 205 

from the rising ground on all sides ; there was even 
a rough attempt at a field-work in one place. It must 
have rather annoyed them finding their elaborate dis- 
positions of no use, through Sir Herbert taking them 
in flank and entirely ignoring their plans for his 
destruction. We searched in vain for interesting 
relics of the field but all worth having had been 
taken long ago, and nothing was left on the bodies 
but the usual dress of white (?) sheet, and skull-cap. 

On reaching the hospital camp, we found nothing 
further of interest had happened. Every one was 
very anxious to know whether Duller intended to hold 
Gubat or retreat at once, but as he had not confided 
ds plans to us, we could not enlighten the company. 
y the time we had fed the men and posted the usual 
entries it was bed-time (7.30 p.m.), so we turned in. 
Next morning Duller arrived with the i8th, 
small convoy of stores, and the escort of M.I. 
He had just received his despatches, these being 
the first ones sent from Korti since the 8th of 
January, over four weeks ago. Some time was spent 
calculating stores and making arrangements, the 



2o6 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

result being that 15,000 rations were left at the 
camp. There had been 60,000 rations at Gakdul, 
and quantities of ammunition, but of these only 30,000 
rations and no ammunition were brought on to Abu 
Klea, and now 15,000 of these were to be left here ; it 
certainly did not look like holding Gubat for any length 
of time, much more like a general retirement without 
even taking Metemmeh. The whole force moved 
off at two o'clock, and we halted at five on the edge 
of the scrub. There was to have been a rocket sent 
up from Gubat at eight o'clock, to show that all was 
still well ; it never appeared, but as it was rather 
doubtful whether it could be seen at that distance, 
its non-appearance caused no anxiety. The only 
other excitement during the night was a wild Irish- 
man of the 1 8th letting off his rifle at a bush, which 
he imagined to be the enemy ; however, as the shot 
came from the direction of the i8th, we ascribed it 
rightly to heated Hibernian imagination, and did not 
put ourselves out about it. 

We were off by 6.30 the next morning, and 
proceeded cautiously towards Gubat. On topping the 



GUBAT AGAIN. 207 

low ridge that sloped down to the Nile, the column 
was halted to make a reconnaissance, but, nothing 
extraordinary being reported, it moved on again. A 
big flag-staff was the next object visible, that had 
not been erected before, and we were pleased also to 
see a vedette of the ipth at its base ; so far so good, 
the garrison was evidently not in little pieces. Shortly 
afterwards, the low Guards' fort came into view, and 
close by it the remainder of the G.C.R., formed 
up for assistance in case we were attacked. In a 
few minutes we were there, and had been welcomed 
by the garrison, who were particularly glad to see the 
stores, as they had been on half rations the last five 
days. The only bit of news they had to tell us was 
the usual " shave" that the Mahdi was two days off 
with an army of 18,000 men. Whether that was 
so or not, I cannot say ; but certainly at dinner that 
night was heard the noise of blank firing, big guns 
and rifles, in Metemmeh, which portended something 
agreeable to the enemy, probably reinforcements. 



CHAPTER XX. 

Clearing out the wounded Gordon's blacks Attack on the 
wounded convoy Destruction of stores The end of the Relief 
Expedition. 

THERE was a considerable squash in the fort that 
evening, but we all huddled up somehow, and got 
through the night in peace. Our only duty during the 
following day was making out camel-returns ; and 
what with the deaths of so many, and many others 
having been lost or exchanged, and all being in an 
unfit state for work, it was some time before the camels 
could be apportioned to each company's satisfaction. 
Next came the orders for the whole of the wounded to 
be cleared out, and go to Gakdul before daybreak 
on the morrow ; whether they could stand the journey 
or not was not the question. All were to go, the worst 
cases being carried on stretchers by a number of 
Egyptian soldiers, who had come with the last 
convoy* 



GORDONS BLACKS. 209 

As this looked still more like immediate evacuation, 
two or three of us went "down town" to collect what 
we could in the shape of curios from the natives, 
and especially from Gordon's Soudanese, since we 
might not see them again. These latter inhabited an 
extraordinary little enclosure, called by courtesy a 
zeriba, about 200 yards off the river fort, and further 
up stream. They had been put there in order to 
prevent treachery or possible mutiny, and were thus 
well under the fire of both our forts. These precau- 
tions seemed unnecessary as far as the blacks were 
concerned, for they seemed thoroughly trustworthy, 
and anxious to stick to us, if only for the sake of plenty 
of fighting. Their officers, however, were a slippery 
lot, composed of Egyptians, Turks, Cypriotes, Greeks, 
Bashi Bazouks, and the scum of all southern Europe. 
They were not to be depended on like the negroes, 
and a very small disaster would have turned their 
sympathies and services over to the enemy. 

The interior of the zeriba was a wonderful 
sight. The whole place was filled with shanties made 
of poles and matting or ragged carpets, and inside 



210 



WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 



these the blacks reposed, chattering, cleaning their 
arms, and swearing at their wives, who sat patiently 
outside cooking dinner. Every available space was 
occupied with arms, wooden bowls, grinding-stones, 
carcases of kids, cooking-pots, spears, corn, and ammu- 




INSIDE THE ZERIBA. 



nition-boxes. At the entrance a six-foot negro did 
sentry-go in a casual sort of way, whilst two piles 
of arms, with fixed bayonets, testified to the presence 
of a picquet somewhere ; every ten minutes, too, a 
trumpeter blew calls of sorts on a huge key-bugle, but 
nobody seemed to pay any attention to them. Most 
of the blacks had arrayed themselves in blue jerseys 



INSIDE OF THE ZERIBA. 211 

and stocking-caps, whilst a good many wore regulation 
British trousers, with red or yellow stripes. On my 
asking where they got them from, they told me simply 
that they had walked about amongst the Ingleez, and 
taken whatever they could pick up. This propensity 
evidently accounted for many deficiencies in our 
weekly kit-inspections. They had not the smallest 
notions of meum and tuum ; everything was public 
property, even amongst themselves. If you saw some 
quaint article lying about, and wished to possess it, the 
nearest person, whether he was the proprietor or not, 
would sell it to you and pocket the proceeds. They 
were very keen soldiers, and, if you made friends with 
them, nearly every one had a pet spear-head or sword, 
covered with dried blood and hair, which he pro- 
duced out of some inner recess in his shanty, and 
showed with great pride. Although already armed 
with Remingtons, most of them had two or three 
spears or a sword to use at close quarters. 
Several of them were very keen to buy off me a 
particularly neat spear I had picked up. They 
balanced it, grinned, and showed a great liking for 

p 2 



212 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

it, and even offered two spears in exchange. I don't 
know where .the beauty of it lay ; but, of course, seeing 
they appreciated it so highly, I declined to let it 
go. Eventually, after much haggling, we got several 
articles in exchange for some priceless cakes of 
tobacco, which the blacks valued far above money, 
and returned to our fort. 

Before dawn next morning the wounded con- 
voy paraded, but did not get off till daylight : 
they were escorted by some Heavies, Coldstream, 
Marines, and Mounted Infantry. The morning was 
occupied in getting our camels into decent order 
and feeding them as much as possible ; for by this 
time it was no secret that we should evacuate the 
position and retire on Abu Klea as soon as all was 
ready. About noon a Hussar brought in word that 
the convoy was being attacked by the enemy, so 
we were for some time in momentary expectation 
of being ordered out to its assistance. Luckily, how- 
ever, another messenger came in to say that the 
Light Camel Corps had come up in the nick of time 
from Abu Klea, and that the enemy had bolted. 



FINAL ORDERS. 213 

Thank God for that, as it might have gone hard with 
the wounded if they had had to wait till we could 
reach them on foot. 

Parade had been ordered for inspection by the 
General at four o'clock, so we fell in completely 
equipped, in case we might have to start before 
nightfall. This was, however, not the case, and in 
the evening the whole force received orders to parade 
at five next morning to commence the retirement. 

Now that our line of action had been definitely 
decided on, the first thing to be done was to see that 
the column travelled as light as possible, for hardly 
any camels remained. Accordingly more than half 
the rations the last convoy had brought up were 
ruthlessly destroyed and thrown into the Nile. It 
was doubly irritating seeing these good things thrown, 
away, since the garrison had been living on very 
short rations during the last ten days. 19,000 Ib. 
of flour, 3,000 Ib. of biscuit, 21,220 Ib. of beef, 
900 Ib. of bacon, 1,100 Ib. of tea, oatmeal, preserved 
vegetables, coffee, and all sorts of stores were pierced 
and thrown into the river. First of all, certainly, 



214 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

every one was told to help himself to the good things, 
and was allowed to take as much in his private kit 
as he liked ; but still it seemed a great pity that these 
rations, after having been brought at enormous trouble 
and expense from England, should, after all, only find 
a resting-place at the bottom of the Nile. There was 
no help for it, however ; as it was, there were only 
just sufficient camels to carry three days rations to 
Abu Klea, besides one camel to every four men'* 
kits. By seven o'clock that evening all the camel; 
were watered and their loads ready for the start at 
daybreak ; so we forgot our sorrows at mess in two 
bottles of fine old crusted (?) Tarragon port save< 
from the medical-comfort-boxes, and retired early t< 
our last night's rest at Gubat. 

Long before dawn the whole force was up, loading 
the camels and having their final meal. As bad luck 
would have it, the "casual" roster had just come 
round to my turn, and took me again for baggage 
guard, which included looking after the camels of the 
whole G.C.R. with their kits, since every one was to 
foot it. One advantage I enjoyed, and that was the 



ON BAGGAGE GUARD AGAIN. 



215 



)rivilege of riding, for I could not possibly survey my 
irty-eight camels from on foot. By 6.30 the whole 
>lumn was under way, and we moved out in broad 
>lumn with our flanks well-guarded in case of attack. 
% his then was the end of the Gordon relief expedition! 
After all our fighting and losses we were to retire 
in this wise, having lost many valuable lives and much 
treasure, and gained absolutely nothing, thanks to 
the miserable vacillation and moral cowardice of Mr. 
Gladstone and the Radicals in not sending us out 
sooner. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

Abu Klea camp again Retirement on Gakdul Death of Sir 
Herbert Stewart News of a Suakin railway and expedition. 

IT was a lovely morning when we left Gubat ; rain- 
less of course the weather always was, but this par- 
ticular day strongly resembled early September in 
England, with white fleecy clouds floating about 
and a cool breeze from the north. It was first-rate 
weather for marching, and men and camels went 
strong and well till noon, when we halted for the 
rest of the day. Although the General had reason 
(and very good reason, as it afterwards turned out), 
to believe a strong force of the enemy was advancing 
from Khartoum, no Arabs were seen at all, and the 
afternoon was devoted to gentle slumber. 

Nothing worthy of remark happened during 
the night, and by noon next day we had arrived 
at Abu Klea. There we found the Light Camel 



THE ATTACK ON THE WOUNDED CONVOY. 217 

Regiment, and they gave us a more detailed account 
of the attack on the wounded convoy. It seems 
that the convoy was well inside the scrub when a 
large scattered force of the enemy was sighted 
through the long grass. Our force was then halted 
for defence, the Arabs closing in on all sides and 
doing considerable execution with their rifles. Owing 
to the broken nature of the ground hardly any enemy 
were visible to shoot at, and matters began to get 
serious. A Hussar was sent back at full speed to 
Gubat to acquaint Buller, and the fighting men 
were already formed into squares, flanking the mass 
)f wounded, to await an attack, when suddenly a 
>rce of men on camels was seen in the distance, ap- 
-oaching from Abu Klea. Taking them for more of 
te enemy, the Mounted Infantry let fly a couple of 
>ng-range volleys at them luckily without effect, for 
tey turned out to be the Lights, arrived in the nick 
time. Seeing these reinforcements in their rear 
ie Arabs all bolted, and the convoy was saved ; so 
whole pursued their way back to Abu Klea in 
;ace. By the time we got there, the wounded 



218 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

convoy had already moved on towards Gakdul, to- I 
gether with most of the wounded left in camp. 

General Duller had now arranged every detail of J 
the retirement, and orders were issued for the Heavies, I] 
the i Qth, ourselves, the Soudanese, and a convoy 
of stores, etc., to start next morning, all on camels, I 
leaving the Lights, the remainder of the Mounted 11 
Infantry, and the i8th to keep the enemy in check till 
we could send back our camels to them from Gakdul 
Owing to the want of reserve of camels at Korti, 
the rear-guard was thus stranded in the middle of 
the desert without means of transport or retirement 
in case of an attack by overwhelming numbers ; ii 
the enemy should attack, Duller was precluded froi 
a fair fight on the open (again) by the want of 
transport for his wounded, so his only course was 
to "sit tight." 

Most of the afternoon was spent in " taking 
over " camels for our start on the morrow ; riding- 
camels and baggagers had of course long ago got 
so mixed up that we took whatever came to hand. 
If possible, the poor brutes were in a worse state 



THE BLACKS AGAIN. 219 

of decay than ever. I am afraid that by this time 
we looked on them as mere machines for carrying, 
and hardly thought of their sufferings from hunger 
and thirst as long as they could be whacked along. 
Eventually we were more or less suited with steeds, 
though certainly some looked as if they could not 
go another yard. 

At six o'clock next morning our force started as 
ordered, and a curious sight it was. My post, in 
charge of that everlasting baggage, was just in rear of 
the Soudanese, and though the crowd of men and 
women were a great nuisance, getting in everybody's 
way and not keeping up, still one could not help laugh- 
ing at the quaint sights. Here, a coal-black negress was 
perched on top of a camel (stolen of course), bestriding 
all her household goods and chattels in the shape of 
rags, bowls, carpets and pots, whilst her husband (or 

Kssibly owner) led the beast, or prodded it up with 
> spear from behind. There, an old man, who 
might have come from any nation under the sun, so 
nondescript was his colour and raiment, was trudging 
merrily along, his rifle slung over his shoulder and his 



220 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

spear-stick in his hand. Donkeys, too, were there inj 
great numbers, each overburdened with his owner's 
goods. No sort of order was observed negroes! 
Egyptians, women, camels, and donkeys all going 
their own pace, soldiers and slaves intermingled in 
wonderful confusion. 

During that day we lost no less than ninety-twoj 
camels, which dropped from exhaustion and were left 
lying. If this sort of thing went on, we thought, therej 
would be very few left to send back to Abu Klea, if any.1 
Luckily, however, this excessive loss was not again! 
equalled ; it seems to have been rather the weeding- 
out of the camels, for I do not remember more than! 
thirty-five or forty giving up the ghost on any subse- 
quent day. We halted that evening two miles south of| 
Gebel es Sergain, and had a good night's rest till 5 a.mJ 

Getting off at 6.30, we had not gone far before! 
Major M'Calmont passed, hurrying to Duller with 
despatches from Korti. He had several most inte-l 
resting pieces of news to tell us, but could not wait to 
give us any details. Firstly we heard of the victory 
of the river column at Kirbekan on the loth, and poor 



SIR HERBERT'S DEATH. 221 

General Earle's death ; secondly, what affected us even 
more, that Sir Herbert had succumbed to his wound 
and died the previous evening. It was a heavy blow 
to the whole force, for he was beloved and admired by 
every man in the column ; we had hoped against hope, 
seeing him linger on week after week arid finally start 
on his journey with the convoy. But it was not to be ; 
the journey had dangerously increased his fever, and 
he had died just within sight of Gakdul. It was a 
personal loss to every one of us. It seemed only 
yesterday that he was riding about the column on his 
little bay horse, talking to everybody, with a cheery 
word or a bit of chaff for all, officer or man alike ; his 
tall figure and yellow puggaree well known to every 
man in the force. Never a harsh word did he use ; 
even on the trying morning before Abu Klea, as at all 
times, his orders were given (so to speak) good- 
naturedly, without fuss or hurry, and when he had 
made every arrangement necessary, he lit a cigarette 
and sat quietly down among us as if he was in his 
garden at home. Not to speak of his military talents 
and soldier-like qualities, he was a real good sort, and I 



222 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

don't know that higher praise could be given to any 
one. The void it left in every one's heart was very 
painful a void nothing could fill ; and for days after- 
wards I woke with a feeling of something gone. On 
hearing the sad news, the iQth Hussars, who had 
served under him in previous campaigns and were 
much attached to him, made a forced march in the 
hope of being in time for the funeral ; but they arrived, 
unfortunately, just too late. 

The third piece of news was that an expedition 
had been ordered to Suakin, to make a diversion on 
the enemy's flank, and, if possible, to reinforce us 
by means of a railway to Berber. 

The latter part of this intelligence was received 
with open mouths and incredulous smiles. That a 
railway should be laid down across two hundred and 
forty miles of desert in time to transport troops to 
Berber to our assistance was rather too much to 
swallow. Even if there was an autumn campaign, 
the chances of which were just dawning on us, we 
very much doubted the possibility of making a railway 
across a rocky, unsurveyed desert, devoid of water and 



IMPORTANT NEWS. 223 

fuel, and crammed full of hostile Arabs, in time to 
be of any use ; and as for making it in six weeks, 
why it was ridiculous ! We also heard that this 
expedition was to consist of 10,000 men, including a 
brigade of Guards, another from India, and various 
regiments of the Line, besides the 5th Lancers and 
2Oth Hussars. It was evidently going to be a big 
thing, and if successful in co-operating with us, meant 
that our campaign was only just beginning. 

Later on in the day we met a water-convoy under 
Major Gould of the Lights, sent out from Gakdul 
to establish a water station near Gebel en Nus, to act 
as a reserve supply for Buller's force in case of 
emergency. The only contribution to us from Gould's 
convoy was our little friend Jacky, the spaniel (?), who 
was delighted to see us again, he having wisely 
retired from Gubat with the first convoy and taken up 
his quarters at Gakdul. On seeing his old friends he 
at once deserted and joined us, returning with us 
to Gakdul. The weather had been very cool all day, 
so much so, that on arriving at our halting-place I 
discovered I had worn my worsted sleeping-waistcoat 



224 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

during the march without noticing it. It was every- 
thing having such weather ; the camels bore up better, 
and the men did not suffer in the least, although they 
had walked a long distance to ease their steeds. Our 
chief difficulty was our boots ; both pairs had long 
since been worn out, and fabulous prices were offered 
for a new pair. During the ten days we had been 
quartered at Gakdul the rocks had cut them to 
ribbons, and now, more than six weeks after, there 
was hardly a respectable pair in the whole force. No 
shoemakers' tools or spare leather had been sent out, 
so the only way for us to repair them was to cut 
up old rifle-buckets, and tie the improvised soles on 
with string as best we could. 

At noon on the iSth our force reached 
Gakdul ; there we were to wait for the rest of 
Duller' s column before retiring finally on Korti. By 
this time the wells were in a bad state ; the two upper 
pools had been drunk down to the animalculae, and 
the camel pool was still worse. Several men had 
contracted typhoid, and altogether it was about time 
to quit the place. 



A FALSE ALARM. 225 

On the evening of our arrival we got serious 
news : one of the correspondents came in and said 
that not twelve hours after we had left Abu Klea, a 
large force of the enemy appeared on the surrounding 
hills and began blazing away at the camp ; he understood 
Buller to say that he wanted 300 troops back again, 
and his opinion was that we should all have to return 
the following morning. Luckily his opinion was not 
worth much, and, in the end, we got orders for only 
100 men to hold themselves in readiness to escort 
a convoy back to Abu Klea on the following evening. 
Next day, however, before they started, Major 
'ardrop rode into camp with consoling news : he and 
Tidswell of the M.I. and three mounted men had, by 
an exceedingly plucky and clever ruse,* succeeded in 
deluding the Arabs into a belief that a strong force was 
taking them in flank ; they had consequently bolted, 
and Buller was in safety. After all, only 100 men of 
the 5oth were sent on with the empty camels, and 
the G.C.R. were informed that they would have to 

* He did not put it quite in this way ! 



226 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

leave Gakdul next day for the wells at Abu Haifa, 
and encamp there pending Buller's arrival. 

These wells were only some ten miles off, and 
from the description of them given in Fowler's map 
they sounded like Paradise large open pools of 
water, plentiful vegetation, dhoum palms in hundreds, 
green grass growing all around, etc., etc. Although 
we had learnt that all beauties of nature in this 
part of the globe were to he taken cum grano 
maxima salts, still we felt that any variation from the 
eternal black rocks and yellow sand would be a relief, 
and looked forward to it accordingly. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

Abu Haifa The camp Looking for water Habits of Soudanese 
cattle Robbers on the road. 

As it happened, our journey was put off for another 
twenty-four hours, and we did not start till the morning 
of the 2ist (February). 

A short cut had been discovered over the hills 
towards Abu Haifa, and by taking this and making 
a bee-line towards a peculiarly-shaped hill on the 
horizon we soon arrived in the neighbourhood of the 
wells. The next thing to do was to discover the wells 
themselves, and this we did with the help of a very 
miserable, but polite, native we discovered in the 
grass, who, poor devil, would have done anything for 
a handful of dhurra. We looked in vain for the pools 
Mr. Fowler had promised, but did not see them ; the 
only water being two or three little puddles about 
four feet square. One dilapidated palm was seen in 

Q 2 



228 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

the scrub close by, but that was all. Mimosa trees, 
however, flourished in abundance, and in a very short 
time the camp (such as it was) was pitched, and we 
prepared to make the most of our stay. 

The first thing done, after posting sentries, was 
to build a zeriba of thorny bushes, enclosing the 
hospital tent, stores, and ammunition. This was to be 
used at night as a secure sleeping-place, while during 
the daytime we reposed under the mimosa trees close 
by. One of these was big enough to shelter the 
whole of the officers, and was accordingly used as 
the mess-tree ; the rest of the men made themselves 
shelters with blankets, rifles, and bushes, and were 
very happy, having next to no work to do. As to 
the position itself, that was not quite as perfect as. 
it might have been, owing to the formation of the 
ground. The water puddles were at the foot of the 
peculiar hill aforesaid, and within easy range of all the 
hills round, so we had to make the best of a bad job. 

During the day pickets and sentries were posted 
on the hills, in such a position as to command the best 
view of the country, and to be able to give timely 



OUR POSITION. 229 

notice of the approach of an enemy from any direction. 
If we were attacked, the Arabs would most probably 
come from the north-east, for a track led that way 
through the hills in the direction of Berber, where 
we knew there was a strong force of the enemy. 
At night we had to be satisfied with a cordon of 
sentries all round the camp, sufficiently far out to give 
us time to form up if necessary. As another pre- 
caution, a heliograph was established on a hill two 
miles towards Gakdul, by means of which we could 
communicate with the force there under Sir Evelyn 
Wood ; so, practically, we were as safe as was possible 
under the circumstances. The only unpleasant part 
would have been if the Arabs had lined the hills 
during the night, and potted us from there ; happily 
they never did. 

Once encamped, there was not much work to be 
done ; the weather was already getting hotter, and 
there was very little to tempt us out of our comfortable 
quarters. 

Our chief amusement lay in exploring the country 
after luncheon, for between nine and three any exer- 



230 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

tion in the sun was only productive of profuse perspira- 
tion. The day after we arrived several of us set out, 
per camel, to try and discover the wonderful paradise 
that Fowler had written about. As we got into the 
hills, a number .of wadies and watercourses appeared 
on all sides, and it was difficult to decide which one to 
take. After following up several, which resulted in 
nothing (in the shape of water), we at length perceived 
a faint track here and there amongst the stones, and 
concluded to try that. Half a mile up this wady, 
Dr. Parke* (who had replaced Magill) and I came 
suddenly on a large pool of water hidden behind a 
steep rock, and the greener colour of the vegetation 
around pointed to more water underground. Another 
600 yards over loose stones brought us to a similar 
pool ; palms and green grass abounded close by, and 
the general effect was most refreshing. In the back- 
ground the wady led into a sort of black gorge, bend- 
ing round towards the south. This promised further 
interesting explorations, but we had had enough 
wandering about for that day ; besides, if we explored 
* Now out with Stanley's expedition (1888). 



UNLIMITED WATER. 231 

everything at once, there would be no occupation for 
the rest of our stay. Accordingly we watered our 
beasts and ourselves, and returned to report. These 
two pools were each about twenty yards long by 
two or three yards broad sort of crescent-shaped 
and not more than three feet deep. Their value, 
however, consisted not so much in their size as in the 
fact that they proved the existence of water every- 
where in the wady. Anywhere in the neighbourhood, 
if you scooped out a hole with your hands, it would 
rapidly fill with clear water, and go on doing so 
apparently ad infinitum. (If anybody wants to know 
why we did not remove the camp bodily to these 
pools, it was because by so doing we should have been 
more in a cul-de-sac than ever.) 

The next few days were occupied in doing nothing 
particular, except building a small zeriba for some 
half-dozen bullocks and attenuated sheep we had been 
sent, as a great favour, by the Commissariat authori- 
ties. The cattle of the country seem to do without 
water nearly as well as the camels ; they do not seem 
to mind going waterless for two or three days at a 



232 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

time, and keep up with a column on the march for 100 
miles or more, subsisting on dry grass and one drink 
half-way. Naturally the beef suffers somewhat in 
quality and quantity ; but though it may not always be 
equal to prime cuts from the sirloin, a fresh meat ration, 
such as it is, is very acceptable occasionally, as a variety 
from the eternal " bully." Our beasts were no exception, 
and only had one failing, which I hope is not common 
to all Soudanese cattle : every night they used to butt 
away, or climb over, their thorny zeriba, and employ 
their keepers all day in looking for them. 

Our other animals, the camels, were allowed to do 
pretty well what they liked, as a slight recompense for 
their previous sufferings. We had been allowed about 
eighty altogether (to some 220 men), and of these twenty 
at a time were kept tied up in case of emergency ; the 
others roamed all over the country during the day ? 
and were driven in at night. Even after three days 
there were visible signs of improvement ; most of 
them began to fill out a bit, and got to look quite 
happy, but I grieve to say that Potiphar was an 
exception. He never seemed to stop eating, yet his 




AFTER GAZELLE. 

ribs came as much through his skin after a 
gorging as they did before. 

Near the camp we noticed tracks of various 
animals, chiefly gazelle and jackals, and used to 
wander out after them in the cool of the evening, 
though we rarely got anything. One thing struck 
me as rather peculiar, and that was the number of 
hoof marks all over the valley. We only had three 
ponies with us, belonging to three Hussars who were 
sent to help us, and we knew no Cavalry had passed 
that way, so I concluded they must be the tracks of 
Arab horsemen at some time or other. It was not 
long before we found out what they were. 

One day, N and I started off on camels up 

the black gorge to explore, taking our rifles with us 
in case of game or niggers. It was very pretty when 
we got well inside. Patches of long green grass and 
rushes sprang up on either hand as we advanced, and 
the dhoum palms increased in greenness and size, 
showing up well against the precipitous dark rocks. 
Under foot the sand showed signs of moisture, and 
every now and then a small pool glistened under some 



234 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

shelving rock there was water enough and to spare. 
Suddenly we caught sight of some forms moving about 
rapidly in the grassy tussocks ahead of us. " Gazelle ! " 
whispered N , and down we slipped, and tried to 
knee-lash our camels. Devil a bit ; they wouldn't kneel 
on the nubbly stones, and stood there bellowing, 
enough to frighten any gazelle away for miles round. 
It was no good making more row than necessary, so 
I basely handed my camel to N - to hold, and ran 
forward, keeping well under cover, to get a flying 
shot at the gazelle. They seemed very tame in fact 
extraordinarily so, for they were there still. I was 
just drawing a bead on the nearest beast through the 
grass, when suddenly he kicked up his heels, and 
bolted into the open, followed by the rest of the 
herd. " Donkeys," I groaned, and returned to my 
camel, chastened in spirit. Alas ! it was so ; they 
were either wild asses, or else they had escaped from 
their native masters anyway, they wouldn't be caught, 
though we tried hard for more than half-an-hour. 
This evidently accounted for the hoof-marks. 

Another ten minutes brought us to a large shallow 



A BIG POOL. 235 

pool, nearly covered with reeds and a sort of duck- 
weed, where we found our three Hussars watering their 
horses ; they had come round the other way on, for 
just here the gorge opened on to a clear space, which 
"gave" into the valley of Abu Haifa. Away to the 
north-east there was a cleft in the black hills, through 
which could be seen more dhoum palms, and lilac hills 
in the distance. It was very pretty. Close by was an 
extraordinary hill, shaped like a high pyramid, with 
a jagged natural breastwork on the top, and this did 
well as a landmark for the big pool. Round the pool 
were some shallow wells, with puddled troughs along- 
side in the sand ; evidently the place was well-known 
to the natives round about, though we did not catch 
sight of any. As our further progress was barred 
by steep hills, we came straight back to camp, and 
told what we had seen. 

Just about this time, reports came in of robbers on 
the road between Gakdul and Korti, who ill-used and 
robbed any single messengers who were being sent 
through. Worst of all, a wretched native, in charge 
of the homeward letters, was set upon one night in 



236 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

the dark, beaten, and robbed of his camel and mail- 
bag. We were particularly annoyed ; for, having 
nothing much to do, we had all written heaps of 

letters home. B had written nine and I five, and 

all the others several apiece ; but there was no chance 
of any civilised person ever seeing them again. We 
soon got instructions, per heliograph, from General 
Wood at Gakdul, to send out camel-patrols by day 
and night, to search the road, and shoot or capture 
any outlying niggers we found. We caught none, for 
they kept well out of the way ; but no more robberies 
were reported, for they had a wholesome fear of us. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

Once more to Gakdul A battle on the way back Leave Abu 
Haifa for good On the tramp Magaga Wells Korti. 

ORDERS were daily expected from Gakdul for our 
eturn to Korti, and at length they came. Wood 
leliographed that we were to keep only forty camels 
n all to take us back, and that all the other camels 
re to be sent at once to Gakdul for transporting 
he sick and stores still there. 

I happened to be next on the roster for " casual " 
luty, so accordingly started off in the evening with 
ome forty loose camels, and ten men to escort and 
drive them. Luckily there was a moon about seven,, 
tnd after various incidents, such as losing our way 
n the interval of darkness, and three camels departing 
his life, we got into the wells about eight o'clock. Just 
Before the turn in to Gakdul, I was riding in front, 
when I heard some extraordinary noises in the 



238 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

distance. At first I thought it was jackals, but soon 
the noises turned into a wild sort of moaning I could 
not understand. At length it dawned on me it 
was Arabs singing : if they happened to be the enemy, 
I thought, how on earth am I to keep forty straying 
camels out of sight of them in the moonlight ? To 
my relief, they were only a party of friendly Kababish 
returning to Korti with a few Lights and stores, and 
they were as much surprised at coming across my 
party as I was at seeing them. Shortly afterwards 
we arrived at the Wells, and after a good feed with 
Nugent, we were all soon sound asleep. 

Next morning I gave over my camels and started 
back, much reduced in numbers. The Wells had a 
very deserted look. Beyond the General, his staff, 
and some fifty men wounded or sick in hospital, there 
was hardly a soul there. The wells themselves were 
getting very unsweet, through the lowness of the 
water ; the place bore every sign of a well-used camp, 
and it was high time to quit. 

Halfway back, my advanced file reported Arabs 
ahead in the grass, and in truth, as I rode up, 




t 

\ x ^. ^iS&tfif S 




\\\\n\\ < 
r"lil S 

0- ' B 



240 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

seven black forms armed with spears arose and 
scudded towards the hills. We pressed forward 
to cut them off, but our worn-out camels would not 
trot over the sharp stony ground, so there was 
nothing for it but to try to bag them somehow. I 
held up a white rag as a sign of peace ; but they did 
not take to it kindly, for they halted a moment and 
then bolted again. This was evidently a sign of 
a bad conscience, so I dismounted four men, and 
gave them a couple of volleys at 900 yards. The 
range was capital, for I saw the spirt of the bullets 
close by them, and they ran I never saw anybody 
get over the ground so fast till they disappeared 
in the hills, and were seen no more. Shortly after- 
wards we met a small convoy going into Gakdul 
with empty camels, so I sent in a report of my 
battle to the General. All he said was, " It's a pity 
he didn't shoot them all." 

On my return to camp, I found orders had been 
actually received (per heliograph), for us to start 
after Wood's column had passed the entrance to 
Abu Haifa Wells, three miles off. Wood was to- 



TANTALISING. 241 

start from Gakdul next evening (the 3rd of March) 
at five, so that meant we should pack up and go 
three or four hours after him. 

Our camels were very limited in numbers and 
strength, one to every two officers, or every six men, 
and hardly any extra camels allowed for mess or other- 
wise. A supply of jams and pickles had at last arrived 
from Korti only two days before, and these we welcomed 
with rapacious joy ; but if we weren't allowed any 
camels to carry these hardly-won condiments back, 
what was to become of them ? Obviously only one 
thing get through them as soon as possible, and 
bring back as much as we could carry privately. 
Accordingly, a quantity of these good things were 
distributed to the men, and after stowing away as 
much as we could in our kits, we stowed away the 
remainder in our stomachs. It was, in fact, a question 
of eating against time, hardly a useful preparation 
for a tramp of nearly a hundred miles. I heard 
some time afterwards that the Heavies had likewise 
been in much the same fix, having had several 
magnums of champagne sent them the very night 



242 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

after they left Gakdul for Korti. The friend in 
charge of the liquor, finding his camels requisitioned 
and the Heavies flown, thought it was a pity to waste 
good wine in the desert, so he packed what he could 
to take back on his own camel, and drank the re- 
maindertwo magnums himself, at a sitting ; good 
performance, I call it. The poor chap, Costello, of 
the 5th Lancers, died afterwards, though not from 
the champagne. A short time after the heliograi 
arrived, orders were issued, and the work of packing 
up our reduced kits and distributing the camels began. 
Everything had to be packed in the smallest space 
possible, and many were the growls at having to* 
leave some treasured curio or trophy behind through 
scarcity of camels. 

At last the welcome news came by flash, " Wood 
has just started." Thank goodness, we should get 
back to water and civilisation (more or less) in four 
or five days ! As Wood's force would take at least 
four hours to get opposite Abu Haifa, and we wanted 
it to get well ahead before following, parade was not 
ordered till nearly daybreak. 



OUTWARD APPEARANCE OF THE G.C.R. 243 

There was a bit of a moon left still during the 
night, so we took advantage of it, and started about 
3 a.m. What a falling-off was there! The last time 
we had passed along that track, it was in the full glory 
of a camel apiece, now there was barely one to every 
five men, and even these, poor brutes, were only 
kept on their legs by continual whacking. 

The foot-gear of the G.C.R. was most extra- 
ordinary ; the boots that had at length arrived from 
Korti, and which we had looked forward to as a 
real godsend, turned out to be of such small sizes 
that the men could hardly get their feet into them. 
They were as hard as bricks, there was no grease 
to soften them, and the only way of using them was 
to slit them open at the end, and shove your toes 
through. As for the officers, no two had the same 
foot-covering ; field-boots, lawn-tennis shoes, gaiters, 
putties, and boots in all stages of decay and attempted 
repairs were worn. The men wore their black serge 
trousers, mostly tied under the knee like navvies', 
while several had lashed putties over them, and slit 
them at the thighs to allow of free ventilation. Others 

R 2 



244 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

wore their old boots, with bits of leather tied on for 
soles. The tout ensemble was peculiar, though it 
might be workmanlike. 

The first day's march was to be to Magaga Wells 
(at present occupied by the Heavies), distant some 
twenty miles off or more. Luckily, the sun was not 
very hot, and we plodded along cheerfully all day, 
stopping for a couple of hours at noon, to feed and 
rest. By five o'clock we had made Zobrick el Kelb, 
near which we were told the wells lay, and another 
fifteen minutes over piles of sharp stones brought 
us to the Heavies' camp. Here we were rejoiced 
by receiving a mail from Korti, and after a long 
drink and a good meal we were soon fast asleep. 

Next morning we received orders to fill up water- 
tanks, to water the camels, and start that evening. 
I wanted to see what the wells were like, so, being off 
duty, I took a gentle stroll thither in the afternoon. 
It was an extraordinary sight. Following the stream of 
men and animals for half a mile, you came across 
a stony cleft in the hills which could hardly be digni- 
fied with the name of a ravine. It wound in and out 



MAGAGA WELLS. 245 

between overhanging cliffs till suddenly you arrived at 
a large and dirty pool, where horses and camels were 
drinking. Above this again were crowds of men, 
buckets, pumps, and tanks, and at the far end of 
all these, in a dip overshadowed by perpendicular 
rocks 150 feet high, was a deep pool of water. These 
were the Magaga Wells, holding quite half the quantity 
of water as Gakdul ; and why they had been only 
comparatively lately made use of, being so close to the 
track, I don't know. 

That night, by eleven o'clock, before the moon 
was up, we had started on our way, and, with the 
exception of a rest of an hour for food during the 
small hours of the morning, walked all night till 7 a.m., 
when we arrived at the wells of El Howeiyat. Here 
there was a small detachment of Sussex to guard the 
wells and keep up the line of communication by 
signalling and otherwise. On the top of the hill 
above the wells was a heliograph, which could receive 
and flash messages all the way to Zobrick el Kelb 
on the one side, and "Thirty-mile Hill" on the other. 
Thus, by means of an instrument at " Twelve-mile 



246 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Hill" and another at Abu" Haifa, messages could be 
signalled straight from Korti to Gakdul in a very 
short time. 

There we slept during the day, and moved off 
towards sundown, at 4 p.m. It was a curious foggy, 
murky evening ; the setting sun beamed dimly through 
the clouds of dust, and we thought we were in for 
a regular khamseen. However, night went on, and 
the sky luckily cleared ; we marched steadily ahead 
in the faint moonlight, and by the time the sun rose 
again, were within ten miles of " Thirty-mile Hill," 
where there was a reservoir of water from Korti. 
Arrived at the camp, we got a good night's rest 
there ; the following day we moved off in the early 
morning, and did about seventeen miles, bivouacking 
on the soft sand. 

Next day, the gth March, we passed " Twelve- 
mile Hill" early, and arrived within sight of the 
Nile and Korti about three o'clock. Not even 
Xenophon's Greeks could have been more de- 
lighted to see their sea than we to behold the 
prospect of unlimited drink, unlimited washing, civili- 



THE NILE AGAIN. 247 

sation, and tents. What a blessing it was getting 

to the Nile ! Colonel Boscawen, L , and D 

had arrived five days before, seedy, from Gakdul, 
and had got everything in order for our reception. 

After seeing to the men, N and I repaired to 

our mutual tent, and the joy of meeting one's spare 
baggage and a real bath was too great for words. 
Pyjamas, clean shirts, a new sponge (my old one 
was in rags), baccy, a complete change of attire, and 
a spare pair of boots it was delicious ! 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

Prospects of an autumn campaign Orders to quit Down-stream iri 
whalers Red spiders Dongola. 

ON arriving at the river, the first questions naturally 
asked were : " What is going to happen now ? Are 
we really going to have an autumn campaign ? An 
we going to stick here all the summer, or are we 
going to quit at once ? " Nobody knew. Wolseley 
was determined upon an autumn campaign, and 
getting to Khartoum, even though the main reason 
for the expedition was gone. The question was, 
" Would the country stand it ? " We rather thought 
not ; but still it was " on the cards," and meantime 
we amused ourselves by mild bets about whether 
we should be home for the Derby, for Lord's, for 
the 1 2th, or for next Christmas. 

Two or three days followed of nothing in par- 
ticular, except that we assisted the Heavies in finishing 



STATE OF THE CAMP. 249. 

their champagne, which produced a curious effect in 
our unaccustomed heads. On the loth, Lord Wol- 
seley announced his intention of inspecting us, and 
did so, without many words, except that we were 
to stay up the Nile all the summer, and would pro- 
bably advance again in the autumn. 

The camp at Korti had assumed enormous dimen- 
sions during the ten weeks we had been away. What 
with the camps of the regiments who had arrived 
since the 3<Dth December, and the quantities of stores 
that had been pouring in, it was hardly recognisable. 
We had left it a snug little place among palm trees, 
dhurra- fields, and mimosa bushes ; and now, behold, 
it was more like the Long Valley at Aldershot than a 
bit of the Nile. The camel lines were a mass of dust, 
the whole place was decidedly not as sweet as it was, 
and civilisation in the shape of a couple of Greek 
merchants had begun to intrude itself. It was time 
to mqve ; the question was where to ? 

It was soon given out that directly the remainder 
of the desert force arrived (the river force having 
arrived on the nth), the whole expedition would be 



250 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

distributed along the river for summer quarters. This 
looked like an autumn campaign with a vengeance ; 
but still I for one did not believe that the British 
taxpayer in his cooler moments would sanction the 
cost of another expedition, and predicted we should 
be out of the country before June which, as it hap- 
pened, was not very far out. 

Shortly after this announcement, orders were issued 
detailing the various quarters for the various regiments. 
Camps were to be formed at Merawi, Tani, Kurot, 
Dongola, and Hafir, and the big camp at Korti was to 
be entirely broken up, leaving only a small force of 
Soudanese blacks, these to be under the command of 
Commander J. Baker, R.N. We, the G.C.R., were 
destined for Dongola, there to remain till further orders. 
So far good. The Heavies were to make a camp forty 
miles north of that at Hafir, the 42nd Highlanders 
to form the advanced post at Merawi, the iSth (Royal 
Irish), the Mounted Infantry, and the 75th (Gordon 
Highlanders) to go to Kurot, the 5oth (West Kent) and 
the 56th (Essex) to Tani, and the Lights to Shabadud ; 
other arms, such as the iQth Hussars, Ordnance, Com- 



THE FATE OF POTIPHAR. 251 

missariat, and Medical Corps, Engineers, Artillery, and 
Egyptians, being divided up between these stations. 

The hot weather being at hand, it was necessary 
to get to our respective stations and build camps 
there as soon as possible. Now that the river column 
had returned, we had all their boats to make use of in 
taking us down the river. Camels there were none 
left worth speaking of ; the few that had dragged our 
kits back from Abu Haifa to Korti had been already 
sent back to help up the remainder of the desert 
force, and even they, poor brutes, were in such a 
condition of holes, maggots, and scragginess, that 
many of them never saw the river again. Alas, poor 
Potiphar! he must have been one of these, for, after 
bringing his share of kits to the Nile with us, he 
was sent back again, and though I made every inquiry 
afterwards about a big white camel, with a blue 
and white noseband, a vile temper, and a hole in 
his side big enough to put your helmet in, I never 
heard any more of him. Peace be to his bones ! 

The first to move were the Heavies, who, after 
having been in turn Cavalry, Infantry, and Mounted 



252 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Infantry, now made their ddbut as boatmen. With 
about seventeen men and their kits to one boat, they 
paddled off on the afternoon of the i ith. Eight boats 
took the whole lot, a sadly reduced remnant of the 
magnificent corps which had started across the Bayuda. 
Out of 24 officers and 390 men, only 1 1 officers 
and 252 men were left, the remainder being killed, 
wounded, or sick. 

We were under orders to start on the following 
day ; without regret, therefore, we took over our 
thirteen boats, packed our kits and ourselves into 
them, and started in the afternoon with a gentle 
breeze from the north-east, which took us down-stream 
at a good rate. Besides sixteen men and one officer, 
there were two Canadians to each boat, partly to teach 
us practical boating in the rapids, and partly to get 
them (the voyageurs) down-stream as soon as possible, 
for their time of engagement was soon up. It was 
a beautiful feeling, sailing down-stream in the cool 
of the evening like this, without a care, after our 
late toiling in the desert it was one of those things 
which ought to be felt to be appreciated. 



DOWN-STREAM. 253 

At dusk we landed, not far from the future site 
I of Tani Camp, and, running all the boats ashore, 
we bivouacked in great comfort on the sandy beach. 
Next day we were off by dawn, and, the northerly 
breeze still holding good, we made Debbeh by three 
o'clock. From here it was slower going, owing to the 
turn in the river, and the consequent unfavourable 
-direction of the wind, so we had to get out our 
oars and pull. The men were in high spirits, and 
really enjoyed pulling ; they looked upon it as a water- 
party, and several would not give up their oars when 
it came to their turn for being relieved, but insisted on 
pulling, for fun, they said. 

The Canadians were stationed in the bows and stern, 
t were not much use, as the river was simple steering 
d had few rapids just here. As a matter of fact, my 
atmen spent most of their time asleep, with their legs 
nging over the side. That night we spent at Kurot, 
here we found General Brackenbury and his staff 
perintending the laying out of the camp. The spot 
as close to Abu Gussi (the market town mentioned in 
previous chapter), and was as desolate as any on the 



254 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Nile. Its chief raison d'etre as a camping-ground lay 
in its sanitary claims, for it was an alluvial soil on 
a gravel bed whatever that may be. Be that as 
it may, I should not have been anxious to stop there a 
week, let alone three months. 

Next morning we were off betimes, and, with a 
good breeze from the east, passed Shabadud and 
Handak about 10 a.m. The heat was already begin- 
ning to get unpleasant, and so were the flies at our 
midday meal. We did as much as we could that 
day, and encamped at a place about fourteen miles 
above Dongola. 

That evening, as we lay comfortably in the sand 
after dinner, smoking our pipes before we turned in, 
two gigantic spiders made their appearance in our 
midst. Up we all jumped, over went lanterns and 

plates, and it was not till C had valiantly slain 

the beasts with a slipper that we ventured to return to 
our places. It's all very well to laugh and to treat spiders 
with contempt, but a bite from one of these brutes is no 
joke. Imagine a yellow brute with two pairs of beaks, 
a body rather longer than your thumb, and eight long 



SPIDERS AND INSECTS. 255 

red legs, covered with stiff and spiky red hairs, the 
whole beast barely to be contained in a soup-plate, and 
you have an idea of the apparitions which made for us 
that night. They devour little birds, their bite is 
by way of being poisonous, and they are horrible to- 
look at. No wonder we bolted. 

Insects of other sorts also began to multiply about 
this time. Every evening we liked to have a swim in 
the cool waters, but now it was fast becoming an im- 
possibility. Millions upon millions of tiny sand-midges 
crowded the water's edge, especially in the neighbour- 
hood of green stuff, and made bathing an infliction 
instead of a luxury. Luckily they disappeared with the 
sun, but ten minutes of their company every evening 
was enough to drive one wild with the tickling they 
did not often bite. 

Next morning we arrived in sight of Dongola 
a good deal sooner than we expected and disem- 
barked at about ten o'clock. Our camp had been 
fixed for a spot over half a mile above the actual 
town, in a sort of enclosure formed by two sakiyeh 
troughs, running up from the river towards a collec- 



256 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

tion of mud huts, some 200 yards back. In this space 
were already erected several large Indian tents, and 
the double bell tents we had brought with us from 
Korti were speedily put up for the men's shelter. As 
the daily-increasing heat would soon be too great 
for life in tents, the orders were that straw huts 
should be commenced at once, allowing twenty men 
to a hut. 

Lord Wolseley was (supposed to be) going to 
make Dongola his headquarters, with General Duller 
as Chief of the Staff; but, besides his staff, part of the 
1 9th Hussars, a detachment of the Sussex, and the 
Naval Brigade, there were going to be very few 
English troops there at all. In the place of troops 
was a huge Commissariat and Ordnance Store just 
above our camp ; behind us, on the road leading to the 
.town, was a portion of Egyptian artillery and cavalry, 
and scattered about near the stores were the tents of 
the C.T.C. and O.S.C. ; subsequently came half a 
battery of R.A. and a half-company R.E. That was all. 

For view from our camp we had a high bank of 
sancl on the opposite shore, unrelieved by rocks or 



VIEW FROM THE CAMP. 257 

trees ; the river itself was very low, and presented a 
very different appearance to what it did when we first 
came up. A broad sandy mud-bank reached nearly 
from shore to shore, leaving only a channel some fifty 
yards wide on each side of it. Just about here the 
river-bed was very wide, so that, the near channel 
being only half visible over the near bank, and the far 
one very nearly concealed behind the broad sand-bank 
in the middle, the Nile did not present that appearance 
of beauty which it should have. On our left were the 
hospital-tents, on the right some stray tents between 
us and the stores, and in our rear a few trees and 
mud-huts separated us from cultivated fields and the 
Dongola track : such were to be our quarters for an 
indefinite period. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

Life at Dongola Building straw huts The town The bazaar. 

IT would probably bore the reader even more intensely 
to read than it would myself to write what happene< 
every day for the next three months, it was so vei 
uninteresting. The fact was we simply vegetated, 
and with the exception of one or two little incidents 
that attracted our attention occasionally, nothing ol 
any importance occurred till we went down-stream for 
good and all. 

As to work for the men, there was nothing to be 
done except building straw huts, and attending one 
parade a day. Since there was no material handy 

to make huts with, V D was told off, with a 

crew of eight men and the interpreter, to cruise about 
the river in a whaler, and buy poles and dhurra straw 
to make them with. The wily old Arab sheikhs had 
long ago made up their minds that the Ingleezi were 



STRAW HUTS. 259 

sent by Allah solely for the benefit of their (the true 
believers') pockets, and accordingly charged out- 
rageously throughout the country for the above-men- 
tioned commodities, about two shillings per pole, and 
ninepence per bundle of dhurra, being the prices 
demanded by the natives, and paid by the English 
authorities. Considering that each hut took about 
thirty-six poles and twenty bundles of straw to con- 
struct, the profit to the land in general must have 
been considerable. 

For the benefit of future builders, I will en- 
deavour to describe the huts, which were simplicity 
itself. A framework was made of poles about nine 
feet high, stuck into the ground so as to form a 
parallelogram thirty-two feet long by fourteen feet 
broad, and more poles were lashed across them at the 
top and half-way down. A puddled mud wall, eighteen 
inches high, was raised between the uprights, to keep 
the beasts and dust out, and the whole covered with 
straw matting. This last was made by a gang of 
natives out of the dhurra stalks we brought from 
the villages round. 

Though it takes little time to describe them, it 



s 2 



260 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

was more than four weeks before the men were under 
cover, and we (the officers) began building our own. 
Up to that time we were living in those capital 
little double Indian mountain tents, which let in plenty 
of air at night, and also plenty of sun in the day-time. 
Nothing but straw or mud kept that sun out it got 
stifling hot even in these tents, open at both ends, 
and right glad were we to get into our straw huts 
at last. We were not stinted in the way of room 
only three officers to a hut, and with the interior 
divided by straw partitions every one had a cool room 
to himself. 

Great was the ingenuity expended in architect- 
ing our huts, so as to get the maximum of shade 
and the minimum of heat. The chief drawback 
was that if you left any place open to the wind, which 
always blew (when it did blow) from the north or 
east, you were sure to be smothered in dust ; if you 
didn't, you were stifled by the heat. Some of us 
rigged up doors of double matting ; some put their 
doors on the wrong side. One started a three-foot 
mud wall to keep the dust out ; somebody else made 



DONG OLA TOWN. 261 

an extra door, and cross-barred it to keep the niggers 
{and himself) out, and let the air in, and I went the 
length of cutting a hole in my roof, and building a 
.sort of lean-to over it ; but the dust didn't seem to 
mind it came in through the top as well as any- 
where else, and so did the sun. We soon found it 
hopeless trying to keep an even temperature, so we 
made up our minds and perspired ad lib. 

Our chief amusement during the cool of the day 
lay in exploring the town of Dongola, which, to 
tell the truth, had very little in it to repay our 
trouble. Imagine a plain town, about four miles 
round, and composed of one-storied mud-houses and 
narrow streets ; round the outside, leaving a good 
space for cultivation between it and the town, a 
mud-parapet and ditch by way of fortification ; one 
side of the town on the river, and on the land side a 
stretch of short green (?) turf dotted here and there 
with patches of cultivation, huts, and water-ditches ; 
behind these again a desert of low, gray hills and 
nubbly stones, and you will have a good idea of 
our surroundings for three months. As for fine 



262 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

buildings arid architectural beauties, there were none ; 
a white plaster-faced barracks, a tumble-down old 
mud mosque, the palace of the Mudir (also made of 
mud), and a three-roomed white house belonging to an 
influential citizen and used as headquarters, were 
the only buildings that raised themselves above the 
level of the sea of mud huts of which the town 
was composed. 

The main attraction was, of course, the bazaar, 
which was an unusually good one for the place. 
In it you could get every variety of fifth-rate 
French and Manchester cottons, cutlery, gim- 
crack stationery, and gaudy trash, but hardly any 
native work whatever. The chief things noticeable 
about the place were a very fine old fig-tree, and 
a greater tendency to lying and cheating among 
the merchants than anywhere else in Egypt, which 
is saying a good deal. There were two short covered 
places, and a small three-sided square giving on to 
a sort of Covent Garden market (I can't explain 
it any better), all full of shops a la Eastern, and 
a few stray ones besides, the whole thing covering 



SILVER-WORKING. 263 

about an acre. This description may seem rather 
wanting ; but people who have seen it will, I have 
no doubt, recognise the place from it. 

It was a sad disappointment not finding anything at 
all worth buying. Nearly everything came from Europe, 
the only native articles being those of consumption, and 
| a few pieces of jewellery, generally rather ugly than 
otherwise. The silversmiths worked in a very primi- 
tive manner ; in the first place, if you wanted them 
to make you something, say a bracelet, or a cigarette- 
case, you had to provide the metal to make it with, 
in the shape of " rials " or dollars. The operator 
threw the dollars into a crucible on a tiny fire, which 
a naked youth was pumping air into with a tiny 
pair of bellows, and that was all you could see 
that day. If you came back the following day, 
the chances were you would just miss the ten 
minutes the smith chose to work upon your article ; 
it was no earthly use hurrying him he didn't under- 
stand it. If his ten minutes at it were over for 
the day, he would bring out the unfinished thing 
from his box and show it to you smiling ; no threats 



264 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

or entreaties could make him go on with it till 
next day. He took at least a fortnight to do the 
smallest thing. When it was done, however, the 
result was often pretty ; a quaint sort of filagree 
work was his forte, and how he managed to do it 
with his thick fingers and clumsy tools was always 
a mystery to me. 

The prices were terribly high ; at least they were 
to all the English. Acting on the old assumption that 
we were sent for their benefit, they charged us in 
dollars instead of shillings, and piastres instead of 
pence. If we would not give what they asked, 
somebody else would it was all the same to them, 
and they made their profits accordingly. One par- 
ticular scoundrel whom we patronised, by name AH 
Shami, had a monopoly of fairly good European 
articles all the others were trash and bled us to 
such an extent that I expect by this time he takes 
his constitutionals in a carriage and pair of his 
own. 

It was a quaint sight watching the natives in 
the bazaar. I used sometimes to spend the cool of 



SKETCHING IN THE BAZAAR. 265 

an evening there, pretending to haggle with some 
blackguard for the price of one of his things, but in 
reality watching the people. I tried several times 
to sketch some peculiarities in costume or colour, but 
the attempt always came to grief. In the first place, an 
Arab's dignity is hurt if you stare at him ; secondly, it 
is strictly contrary to his religion to have anything 
to do with pictures ; thirdly, if you succeed in over- 
coming his scruples and getting him to sit to you, 
he is perpetually shifting his position or jumping up to 
have a look at the picture ; and fourthly, a crowd 
of unsweet little boys, in every stage of undressedness, 
crowd round you and in front of you the whole time, 
entirely spoiling your temper and your picture. Having 
regard to these facts, I often wonder how it is that 
artists present you with a correct picture of an 
Eastern crowd or bazaar. I believe they do it from 
memory, helped by a vivid imagination. Do it on the 
spot you simply can't. 

Every sort of nationality, colour, and tribe was 
united at Dongola. Greeks, Levantines, Cairenes, 
Portuguese, Abyssinians, Hindoos (in small quanti- 



266 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

ties), Jews, Italians, and every variety of Arab, from 
the pale-faced Copt through the yellow mongrel and 
brown Bishari down to the Kordofani that you lite- 
rally couldn't get any blacker if you were to polish him 
with a blacking-brush for a fortnight all jostled each 
other in the bazaar. In the market outside sat crowds 
of women of all colours, each with several shallow 
round baskets of dates, vegetables, butter, or cheese in 
front of her all talking at once. Especially was this 
the case on Thursday afternoons (their Saturday), 
when the noise really surpassed Whitechapel Road on 
Saturday evening. 

Such was the place we visited every day during 
the first month of our stay. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

Other amusements Ponies Dog-hunting Shooting D and 

his pelican Birds Fishing. 

As time went on, the bazaar began to grow rather 
insipid, and we cast about for other means of amuse- 
ment. Bathing we had in plenty, for the iQth Hussars 
had erected a couple of header-planks opposite their 
camp, where the water was deepest, and hospitably 
told us to make use of them whenever we liked. The 
men, too, bathed every day, by order, just off our 
camp ; but as the water never reached their shoulders 
there, those who could swim preferred enjoying a 
second dip in deeper waters. 

Somewhat harder exercise, however, than prome- 
nading the bazaar was necessary to keep the men and 
ourselves from getting seedy ; nothing damages you 
so much in a hot climate as having nothing to do, and 
plenty of time to do it in. Already several men were 
down with low fever of sorts, which developed itself 



26S WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

into enteric in a few cases. We were getting flabby 
and slack with the heat. 

The fact was we could not take violent exercise at 
any time of the day. The sun rose between five and 
six, and by seven o'clock it was too hot to attempt 
to go out without a helmet, or to exert oneself suffi- 
ciently to stir up the liver and get into decent con- 
dition. The only time for exercise was just before the 
sun went down till darkness came on, which it did much 
too quickly for our liking. Some of us used to go for 
long walks, some prowled about after birds and beasts, 
some tried fishing, but the amusement most patronised 
was riding. 

By some means or other most of us had raised 
ponies ; what with sales of effects of officers who 
had died or gone home, haggling with Arab horse- 
dealers, and requisitioning horses from the iQth 
Hussars on every available opportunity and for every 
conceivable purpose, the G.C.R. stud must have num- 
bered twelve or thirteen animals, and, as may be well 
imagined, they were not allowed to run to flesh for 
want of exercise. 

Dog-hunting was the best sport. Armed with 



DOG-HUNTING. 



269 



long blunt sticks, the sportsmen in the whole camp 
issembled somewhere near the town, and proceeded 
to arouse some unfortunate slumbering pariah, and 
Irive him towards the desert. Once his head was 
>et desertwards, the whole field would hurroosh after 
lim as fast as their crocks could carry them, and 
>metimes have capital sport. The idea was to charge 
lim and knock him off his legs with your lance ; 
mt this did not always happen ; to tell the truth,. 
II don't remember ever seeing it done. The dog 
generally too wily, and would dodge and bolt 
for the river or some friendly mud-hut, and there 
lisappear. As he could turn much faster than any 
I pony, he usually had six to four the best of it. 
No matter, there were plenty of dogs left ; and after 
11, as long as you got a good gallop, what did it 
signify if you did lose half-a-dozen ? I don't know 
why, but the bitches always gave us the best runs ;: 
'hen they once got their heads set for a point,, 
they would go for it, and not condescend to twisting 
land turning : perhaps it was deficiency of brains, 
or want of presence of mind, or perhaps it was the 
desire to please common to the female sex; I don't 



270 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

know. They were real curs, most of them, and 
would yowl with fright if you raised a stick at them. 
One noble exception there was, who was run to a 
standstill miles out in the desert ; he couldn't bolt 
any more, so he dashed at the legs of his solitary 
pursuer's pony. The sportsman hurled his stick 
at him and of course missed, so he generously turned 
his pony homewards and left the dog victorious, to 
get home that night if he could. 

As regards shooting at Dongola, that was a 

delusion. Our most enthusiastic sportsman, D -, 

used to go out mysteriously at all hours of the day, 
and sometimes night, with a gun, his faithful servant 
behind him carrying his pea-rifle. He was generally 
late for dinner in consequence, and nine days out of 
ten his answer to our inquiries as to what he had 
shot was a cheerful " nothing." If he did bring 
anything back, it was usually only a few cockyolly- 
birds, such as red-breasted sparrows, green bee-eaters, 
and such like. These he skinned and kept. One 
day, however, he returned in great glee, dragging 
after him a big grey pelican he had shot with a 
rifle. The stench emanating from his hut for the 



BIRDS AND BEASTS AT DONGOLA. 271 

next few days was something appalling. I assisted at 
the flaying thereof, and all went well till we got to 
operating on the head, and there we stuck ; what 
was to happen to the great skin pouch under the 
beak ? I forget how we squared it at last, but I 
know next day D called me into his charnel- 
house and pointed out in consternation that the pouch 
was turning dark red. By-and-by it got quite black, 
dried up, and finally began to split. I shall not 
easily forget D 's anguish at this untoward oc- 
currence ; it seems he had destined the skin for the 
chief ornament of his paternal halls, and now his 
hopes were dashed. 

The birds and beasts were not half so numerous 
or brilliant as we had expected to find. Beyond a 
very few gazelle, a few foxes, and plenty of lizards 
and chameleons, there were absolutely no four-footed 
animals ; even crocodiles were at a premium, only 

one being bagged, by M ,. during our stay. Some 

fifty miles down the river there were supposed to 
be four hippopotami, who had lived there for years ; 
we organised an expedition for their slaughter, 
but, as it happened, it never came off. Birds were 



272 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

more numerous, but very sober in hue ; besides the 
sparrows and bee-eaters above mentioned, I don'J 
remember any brilliant-coloured ones. Hoopoes therd 
were in plenty, and small wood-pigeons ; but thd 
other land-birds were as dingy as London sparrows! 
and couldn't even sing. Among the water-birds, thej 
razor-bill, a small black-and-white bird with a bill some-J 
thing like a toucan, was the most curious ; and beside 
him there were a few pelicans, herons, paddy-birds 
wild geese and ducks, storks, and cranes, yet no 
in anything like the quantity we had been led tc 
expect. Probably the advent of so many men anc 
boats on the river drove the birds and beasts away 
for further up-stream, at Metemmeh, wild-fowl, black 
storks, adjutant-birds, and every sort of quaint water 
bird simply swarmed. 

Fishing was a simple amusement very no 
requiring much skill on the part of the fisherman 
When an Arab wants to catch a fish, he ties a strong 
hook on to a hank of cord, weights it with a stone 
and winds it on to a big reel with a big iron pin 
through the middle of it. He also provides himsell 
with a little bell tied on to a thin stick. He then 



FISHING. 273 

sticks the reel into the mud, and the bell-stick close 
alongside it, baits the hook with a lump of meat, takes 
a half-hitch round the bell-stick, throws the line into 
the river, and goes to sleep. If a fish gets hung 
on the hook, its struggles set the bell going : our 
friend wakes up, hauls in the fish, and repeats the 
process. The only difficulty about it is bringing 
the fish to land, and that is mainly a question of 
strength, for the Nile fish runs to an immense size. 
There seem to be only two varieties, one nastier than 
the other for eating purposes. The first rejoices in 
the Arabic name of " baggah " and looks like a big 
bream he is good as kedjeree, but not otherwise. 
The other one is a sort of silurus, thick-skinned, black 
and slimy, with a big flat mouth, and sort of antennae 
on his nose he is simply beastly to eat, specially 
at High Nile, when he tastes like solid mud. 

We caught several of these brutes with night-lines, 
and would have caught some more, only our tackle 
always got stolen by some prowling nigger during 
the night. So we gave up that amusement in a 
very short time, and took to riding again. 



CHAPTER XXV I L 

Mai^s Post-office peculiarities Rumours Conflagrations. 

SUCH was our everyday life in quarters, perspiring 
freely from seven to five, and then doing as much 
in the way of exercise as was possible till 7.30, when 
it got dark, and we had dinner. As regards our 
food, it was voted that three meals a day was too 
much for a hot climate, so they were reduced to 
two; breakfast at eleven, and dinner at 7.30. Soon, 
however, we began to discover an empty feeling in 
our interiors between sunrise and eleven, so we had 
a gentle chota hazri of tea and biscuits at 6.30 a.m., 
and, to fill up the gap between breakfast and dinner, 
another slight repast of the same about four ; total, 
four meals instead of two. 

The men had built us a capital straw mess-hut, 
and the greater part of the day we spent there, 
playing whist and piquet, and reading the papers, 
which were by way of coining once a week from 



THE POST OFFICE. 275 

England. As a matter of fact, the mails were often, 
I may say generally, two or three days late, owing 
to the dearth of camels and other means of transport. 
On one occasion the Mudir of Dongola, being sent 
down stream to Cairo, boned all the mail camels 
for his own private baggage and refused to give 
them up for some time. The river too was about 
as low as it could be, and the steam-launch that 
usually brought on the letters from Abu Fatmeh 
took to running aground on sandbanks, so the delivery 
was hardly as regular as it might have been. 

Parcels came up occasionally, but they were even 
more erratic than the letters and newspapers, and many 
were the angry visits paid to the Dongolese Post 
Office. This was a dark, dirty room in the town, 
presided over by an impertinent little Italian, who 
kept the papers and parcels in such apparently hope- 
less confusion that it was wonderful how we got 
any letters at all. I remember getting very much 
annoyed with him one day, about some parcel I knew 
had arrived, and which he wouldn't produce, and 
I finished by threatening to report him to the Station 
Commandant. Imagine my indignation when next 



T 2 



276 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

day I received a request from the Commandant to 
come and explain my conduct at the Post-office ! 
The little brute had stolen a march on me, and re- 
ported me for using unparliamentary language ! 

Every day came in some new "shave," and the 
variety was nearly as great as it had been at 
Metemmeh. A telegram board had been put up in 
the middle of the camp, for official news and Reuter's 
telegrams, but it was much too scantily supplied 
for our wants. The main question, of course, was 
how long we were to stay up the river, and whether 
there would really be an autumn campaign. On 
this subject every one had different views, and as 
every one aired them as authentic on all occasions, 
the amount of rumours "on the best authority" mul- 
tiplied exceedingly. Nothing was to be gleaned 
from the English papers. They had evidently for- 
gotten all about us, and were crammed with nothing 
but leaders and articles on the new Franchise Bill, and 
such like matters of thrilling interest. 

Reuter's correspondent was our best tipster, and he 
gave vent to some startling statements, mostly a little 
premature, which were believed as gospel. First, that 



FIRE IN CAMP. 277 

the Cabinet had decided to evacuate the Soudan at 
once ; then that it had cancelled its decision, and we 
were to go up to Khartoum, also at once ; then that 
Wolseley had sent for exact states of the force, with a 
view to immediate action ; then that we were to go 
down-stream directly the Nile was high enough, and so 
on, ad lib. The chief outcome of these rumours was 
mild betting as to how long we should be in the country. 
I remember rashly laying three to one, which found 
ready takers, that we should still be at Dongola on the 
ist of June ; and a good bet it was. As it happened, 
we started down-stream on the afternoon of that day, 
so I won my bets but I am going ahead too fast. 

One day (it was on the ;th of May) I was lying in 
rather a torpid state, as usual, in my hut, when I was 
aroused by a loud rushing and crackling sound just 
outside. I ran out, and beheld the windward hut of 
all a mass of flames. Not a second was lost ; the whole 
camp was already turned out, and chains of buckets 
were rapidly organised to the river. But it was no 
use. Water had not the smallest effect on the flaming 
straw, and, one after another, six large huts were in a 
blaze. The whole thing did not take four minutes 



278 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE. NILE. 

from the time the first hut caught till the last was a 
smoking heap, and next to nothing was saved. The 
Coldstream and Marines who were quartered in these 
huts escaped mostly in their shirt-sleeves ; they had 
not time to get anything out, not even to put on their 
coats. As the bandoliers and pouches caught fire, pop, 
pop went all the cartridges, though happily no one was 
damaged by the bullets. By good luck, the sixth hut 
was divided from the rest by a big sakiyeh-trough on a 
high ridge of earth, so we were in hopes that the fire 
would not spread. Owing to the prompt arrival of the 
whole of the iQth Hussars with blankets not two minutes 
after the fire began, and the exertions of our own men, 
who covered the untouched huts with wet cloths and 
blankets, the fire was stayed. The only danger now to 
be feared was from the flying sparks, which were carried 
for many yards by the powerful wind, and, in one or 
two cases, alighted on other huts ; but they were 
extinguished before they had time to do much harm, 
thanks to several sailors and others. Total damage : 
two companies of the G.C.R. left houseless and nearly 
clotheless. There was nothing to be done but to 
build the huts up again. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

The Lotus ^Boat-races Temple-digging Gymkhana meetings 
Panic among the natives Orders to quit. 

THUS passed the time away, and very slow it seemed 
to us. There was great excitement about the Suakim 
campaign, and also about the Afghans and the 
Russians for a time, for we had it " on the highest 
authority " that war would be declared at once, and 
that we should proceed to the scene of action imme- 
diately. However, the feeling cooled down, as we 
realised there was not going to be war after all, and 
we cast about for new excitements. 

Every Saturday, or thereabouts, the Lotus* used to 
pay us a visit from up-stream, bringing down sick and 
taking back stores. She was a perfect boat for the 
river, and invaluable in the low state of the water, for 
even when fully loaded she only drew eighteen inches, 

* Stern-wheel Yarrow steamer. 



280 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Sometimes she brought a parson for Sunday services, 
though generally we did without one ; and by her 
means we were kept au fait with what was going on 
up-stream. Sometimes too, a few Mounted Infantry 
officers from Kurot, Lights from Shabadud, or Heavies 
from Hafir, would pay us a visit, and spend a day or 
two in the Dongola markets, buying provisions for 
their respective messes. Altogether, news circulated 
pretty freely along the river. 

On one occasion we sent a picked crew of G.C.R. to- 
try conclusions with the Heavies in whale-boat races. 
We were ignominiously defeated, but ascribed it to not 
knowing their course, and challenged them again. They 
came up to Dongola accordingly, and beat us again, by 
something like eight lengths. It is only fair, however,, 
to remark that our boat, the best we could get, was a 
square-sterned, broad-bottomed affair, which travelled 
wofully slowly, whilst they had the pick of the lot in 
the shape of something approaching a gig. 

Not long after we had settled down at Dongola, 
an important addition arrived in the shape of Colonel 
Colborne, who had been acting as correspondent to the 



ANTIQUARIAN RESEARCHES. 28 r 

Daily News with the river column. He at once pro- 
ceeded to make himself comfortable by hiring a house 
on the outskirts of the town close to the river, and 
mooring his private dahabieh alongside. Being of an 
antiquarian turn of mind, he somehow discovered that 
there were some remains of a temple four or five 
miles up-stream, and resolved to dig it out. Ac- 
cordingly, half-a-dozen of us accompanied him thither, 
on his dahabieh and in whalers, drank his brandies 
and sodas such a luxury ! and pretended to be deeply 
interested in the proceedings. 

To tell the truth, it was a curious place. The only 
outward signs of it at first were the broken tops of some 
stone pillars, all but buried in the sand. So we hired a 
lot of niggers, and set them to work with shovels. Very 
soon the pillars began to grow, and the niggers found 
themselves on the roof of a tiny temple. Digging away 
all round this disclosed some interesting hieroglyphics 
on the walls, and seven or eight feet down we came 
on some large figures in relief of gods and goddesses, 
together with the top of the entrance into the holy 
place. As enough had been done for one day, we 



282 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

returned home, intending to come another time. It 
so happened that a strong wind blew for the next 
three days, and when we returned to the place nothing 
was visible but the broken pillar tops as before all 
our labour was buried in the sand- drift ! As we had 
no guarantee that the wind wouldn't do it again, we 
didn't try again, and left the sands their secret. The 
only other things near the place were dozens of little 
green copper gods and goddesses strewn about ; it 
must have been a god-foundry in its day, for in some 
places there were hundreds of broken crucibles and 
pieces of pottery, and bronze rings, and things green 
with age. I also picked up a transparent lizard with 
big eyes (alive), and what rather astonished me was 
that he fell off his tail, leaving it curling and wriggling 
in my hand. I tried to join him and his tail again, but 
some sand had got in between and it wouldn't stick, so 
I left him looking forlornly at it. 

The i Qth Hussars used to have every week a 
Friday afternoon " at home," where all sorts of sports 
were indulged in. Tent-pegging, melon-cutting, bare- 
backed races, musical rides (without the music), hurdle- 



GYMKHANA MEETINGS. 283 

races, flat-races, camel-races, all had their day. Some 
of the sporting Arabs used to enter their horses in the 
flat- races, the Vakeel (head man of the town now 
that the Mudir was gone) especially being a great 
owner, and also jockey. One particular race was a 
great favourite ; it was riding barebacked a short dis- 
tance round a post, coming back to the starting-post, 
dismounting, sitting on a chair, drinking a bottle of 
gingerbeer, and then the course again. Another one 
was tandem-racing, riding one pony and driving 
another. All this took place on " Newmarket Heath" 
at the back of the town, a magnificent stretch of 
ground, called by courtesy turf. Though perhaps not 
so green as it might have been, it made a first-rate 
racecourse, and many were the Friday afternoons we 
attended this Gymkhana meeting. 

To chronicle all the interesting events that occurred 
along the river, race-meetings, concerts, and general 

news, I , the enterprising adjutant of the G.C.R., 

started a newspaper. It contained a vast amount 
of interesting information, scientific, sporting, social, 
and otherwise, and was printed by the Engineers, 



284 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

who had brought up a printing-press amongst other 
useful things. It was called the Dongola News, ap- 
peared every Saturday, and did a wonderful trade. 
The pity was it didn't begin its career soon enough, 
for it only reached its fourth number. 

May was drawing to a close, and, though we did 
not know it, the day was approaching for going down- 
stream and leaving the charms of Dongola for ever. 
The news had got abroad amongst the natives that the 
English were going to quit, and great was the con- 
fusion that ensued. Facilities were offered to the 
inhabitants in case they wished to go down-stream 
too, and every one took advantage of the offer. Pro- 
clamations were issued that the English Government 
had decided not to hold Dongola longer than was 
absolutely necessary, and that in fact all British troops 
would be withdrawn as far as Wady Haifa or there- 
abouts. The immediate result of this was that a 
general exodus of the natives began. Every one 
bolted as if the Mahdi were at his heels. Streams 
of niggers and Arabs, men, women, and children 
of all shades gathered together their goods and chattels 



PANIC AMONG THE DONGOLESE. 285 

and flocked out of the town. The only check put 
on their flight was that they should keep to- the west 
side of the river, and not interfere with the retirement 
of our troops. At first it was laughable to see these 
poor panic-stricken people making their way down- 
stream, they were in such a hurry to get away ; but 
very soon it became rather a nuisance than otherwise. 
The town and villages near became entirely deserted, 
and the bazaar from having been a lively scene of 
crowding natives and colours got to look simply 
wretched. Day by day the stalls emptied, and at last 
not a soul was left in it. Nothing but old wrappers 
and dirty pieces of paper littered the ground, and, 
bar the regulation curs prowling around, not a living 
soul was to be seen it was quite depressing. There 
was not the smallest need for such haste, for the 42nd 
had not yet left Merawi, and even if the whole of the 
English had been already withdrawn below Debbeh, 
there was no enemy to speak of this side of Berber ; 
however, the niggers seemed to think so, and went 
accordingly. Where these poor people all went to, 
I don't know. The richer ones and merchants I 



286 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

suppose went into Lower Egypt with their ill-gotten 
gains, and either pursued their callings there, or retired 
to live in ease for ever after ; but the poorer ones, the 
peasantry, must have had a hard time of it, as I know 
the natural river-bank inhabitants do not take kindly 
to new-comers. 

By the time all the inhabitants had left the district, 
news came that the 42nd had actually left Merawi 
(the most advanced post of all), and were on their way | 
down-stream in whalers. The next to move wen 
the Soudanese at Korti, then the camps at Tani, 
Kurot and Shabadud in succession, and eventually 
we were to break up and go, leaving the 5oth West 
Kent (from Tani) in our places as rear-guard. 

On the 30th May the 42nd passed Dongola, aided 
by a strong south-easterly wind, which came in very 
much a propos (and as a matter of fact precipitated 
General Buller's arrangements rather too much for 
his liking.) At last we got our orders to start in 
the 50th's whalers directly they arrived : with this 
wind it would probably be in two days. A great 
relief it was knowing this for certain, or at all events 



LAST DAY AT DONGOLA. 287 

knowing that we should be out of this part of the 
country before many more weeks were over. There 
were not many preparations to be made. Furniture, 
mess-huts, beds and benches we left for the iQth 
or 5Oth, and of luggage we had not very much. There 
was no one left to say good-bye to, and all we had to 
do was to sit and wait for the 5Oth. The last evening 

I spent on Colonel C 's hospitable dahabieh, but 

beyond falling into the Nile on the way back to camp 
I do not remember much about it. 






CHAPTER XXIX. 

We leave Dongola Abu Fatmeh Krooboys Getting down-stream 
Egyptian athletics Wady Haifa. 

THE ist of June dawned (and I had won my bets). It 
was an awful day, worse than any we had yet had. 
The wind blew hard from the south-east, and wit! 
it clouds of black dust which made us long for the 
appearance of the West Kent. By telegram we heard 
that they and the South Stafford had left Shabadud on 
the previous day, so they ought not to have arrivi 
before evening. However, the wind blew them down- 
stream a grand pace, and they appeared about tw< 
o'clock. 

It did not take long for them to get themselves and 
baggage out, or for us to take their places. Before 
the sun was down we were well beyond Dongola, 
skimming along at a rate that would take us about 
three times as fast as the authorities had intended. As 
we sailed along, straggly caravans of unfortunate 



SAD COMPARISONS. 289 

natives and their goods were seen making their way 
down country on the left bank. The villages along 
the river had a painfully deserted look, and it was sad 
to watch the " families-removing " process going on 
from them. 

That night we encamped on the bank, and slept in 
the soft sand. Our marching was to begin next day 
at Abu Fatmeh. The days of camels were over, alas ! 
and nothing remained but to get ourselves home by 
ordinary civilised means as quickly as possible. The 
G.C.R. had long ceased to be a Camel Regiment, and 
we were once more to be real genuine Infantry. 

It was very sad to compare our present state with 
what we were seven months before, going up country. 
Then each man had a camel of his own, real breeches 
and putties, and a respectable grey tunic ; now every 
man was reduced to his own legs as transport, kharkee 
trousers much too short for him, and a badly-fitting 
kharkee tunic. Then the G.C.R. was over 400 strong, 
with every hope for the future ; now the object for 
we came was gone, and there were 90 of us 
also. The Heavies had, however, suffered far 

u 




290 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

worse. Out of the 24 officers and 430 men who had 
come up, only 8 officers and 210 men were returning. 
Burnaby, Gough, Atherton, Law, Darley, Carmichael, 
and Wolfe had been killed ; St. Vincent had died of his 
wounds, Browne and Costello from enteric fever, and 
Somerset, Beach, Binning, Gore, and Murdoch had 
been sent home wounded or invalided. Of ourselves, 
thank goodness, no one had died ; Crutchley, Poe, and 
Magill had been sent home wounded, and Townshend, 
Drummond, and Baden Powell invalided but that 
was all. Dongola was to be abandoned, and all our 
troops withdrawn below Wady Haifa no chance of 
an autumn campaign. It was very hard lines to leave 
the country thus in the hands of the Mahdi and his 
followers, and we felt that the native confidence 
in England was rudely shaken. However, if the 
British tax-payer wouldn't stand another expedition, 
he wouldn't, and there was an end of it. 

The morning after leaving Dongola the boats 
flew down the river before the wind, and we must 
have done the distance to Abu Fatmeh in record 
time. It was rather ticklish work steering through 



ABU FATMEH. 291 

the miniature rapids which appeared now and then. 
Especially irritating was it, on taking a shot at one 
of two channels, to find your whaler grounding on 
the sand and rocks in the wrong one. With wind 
and current dead against you it required a good 
deal of hard pulling to get back and turn into the 
right one. The Nile was very low, and with sand- 
banks and islands appearing in mid-stream, it was 
a toss-up as to which channel between them was 
shallow and which deep. Luckily no serious mishaps 
occurred, and our fleet arrived at Abu Fatmeh Camp 
.about midday. 

Somehow the wind did not seem to act on shore, 
for it was frightfully hot directly we landed. We 
were stowed away in straw " rest-huts " till the 
evening, when we were to begin our march, and 
the temperature was like a furnace. It was higher 
than we had ever had before 122 degrees in the 
shade. Glaring hot rocks and no trees to speak of 
were the specialties of the place, and we thanked 
our stars we were to be off the same day. 

Just below Abu Fatmeh was the cataract of 

u 2 



292 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Kaibar, and here the river took a long detour. The 
orders were therefore to send our baggage round 
through the rapids in boats, and take a short cut 
across country to the Kaibar Camp. 

A detachment of Kroomen had been sent up from 
the Mediterranean squadron to do the piloting of 
the cataract, and extraordinary people they were. 
Their dress was supposed to be that of an English 
blue-jacket, but the varieties of clothing were endless, 
from a loin-rag upwards. Coming from the West 
Coast of Africa, they were a different type of negro- 
altogether from the Soudanese, and had a break-jaw 
lingo of their own that nobody could understand. This 
latter difficulty, however, made little difference to them, 
for they jabbered broken English (very broken it 
was, too) with the greatest pleasure. Each Kroo- 
boy was borne on his ship's books under an English 
Christian and surname, such as Tom Teapot, Uncle 
Fat, Salt Pork anything that was in his sponsor's 
mind at the time of christening. They were very 
cheery fellows, and certainly wonderful at getting a 
boat through an impossible place. 



ON THE MARCH DOWN-STREAM. 293 

To these men we confided our baggage, M 
and P - being sent with them to superintend, and 
started on our walk as the sun was setting. Every 
one of us was in shocking bad condition for a tramp 
after our long stay at Dongola doing nothing, and 
before we got to Kaibar next morning the want of 
training began to tell. The distance was by way 
of being seventeen miles, but I made it twenty-three, 
if not more. However, a beautiful wash and drink 
in the river put us right in no time, and, after 
resting in the camp during the day, we started again 
in the evening. 

During the next week the programme of getting 
down-stream was the same. Rest-camps had been 
organised all down the river, wherein we were to 
stay during the heat of the day ; the marching always 
took place at night. Starting about 6 p.m., we 
marched for three or four hours and then bivouacked 
in any handy place, slept till 2 or 3 a.m., and then 
off again, arriving at J:he rest-camp just when it 
was getting hot. The pleasantest part of the day's 
work was arriving in the morning hot and tired 



294 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

and plunging straight into the Nile it was beautiful. 
In the more unfrequented parts there were a good 
many water birds, and many was the stalk I had 
after them, always without result. It was very 
pleasant wading after storks and cranes, up to one's 
neck in water and with nothing on but a helmet 




AFTER WATER-BIRDS. 



and an eye-glass, but somehow the birds were shy. 
They always chose the moment to flap away just 
when the water was so deep that you couldn't use 
your rifle, and though they settled again a hundred 
yards further on, I, for one, never succeeded in getting 

a comfortable shot. D was so keen to get 

another big bird, as a pendant to his pelican, that 
he'd wander after birds in a hopeless sort of way 



REST-CAMPS. 295 

for hours. Once a flock of cranes led him out of 
sight altogether, and he missed the turning into the 
rest-camp and wandered on twelve miles or so to 
the next ; but never a feather did he get. 

Crocodiles there were also ; occasionally one of 
them would be aroused by our splashing and slide out 
into deeper water, but nobody ever got a shot at one. 

The rest-camps we passed the daytime in were 
composed of half-a-dozen large straw huts for us, and 
a couple of tents for the officer in charge of the station. 
They were all very much alike, and with no particular 
features to remember them by, except that at Koyek, 
where I remember there was a comfortable mud-house 
and a big mud-mosque, with Grenfell of the loth 
Hussars in command. The names of the camps from 
Dongola down to Wady Haifa were as follows : Abu 
Fatmeh, Kaibar, Dulgo, Absarat, Saad Effendi, 
Koyematto, Ushematto (somebody shot a sand-grouse 
here with a rifle browned a covey sitting), Koyek, 
Abri, Sarkamatto, Dal, Akasheh, Tanjour Road, 
Ambigol Wells, "Railhead," and Wady Haifa, but 
I have no distinct recollection as to what the first 



296 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

seven or eight of these were like ; suffice it to say they 
were all in palm-groves on the bank of the river. 

Whilst we walked thus, our baggage went by 
boat, and sometimes caught us up at the halting- 
places ; generally it didn't. Anyway, it didn't matter, 
as cooking-pots and blankets came along with 
us on a camel or two, and the baggage was sure to 
turn up somehow. Some donkeys and a couple of 
ponies came too, besides a cacolet-camel for anybody 
who fell sick, so that the small column was well pro- 
vided with transport. 

From Abri to Akasheh we went by boat, each 
in charge of a pair of Kroo-boys. It made my 
hair curl passing some of the rapids, but only two 
of our boats got stove in a little after all. The Dal 
cataract between these places had too little water for 
boats to pass, so we went round it on foot. 

At Akasheh we left the river, not to see it again 
till Wady Haifa. Tanjour Road lay eleven miles on 
in the desert, and here we found Surtees of the Cold- 
stream (and at that time of the Egyptian army) with 
a rest-camp, and a few Egyptian soldiers and camels 



298 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

to supply it with water from the river four miles off 
In the evening the Egyptians held some athletic 
sports for our benefit. The great feature of the sports 
was boxing-matches a la Egyptian. This meant you 
might hit your adversary anywhere you could, and 
if you took his wind so much the better it was easier 
to knock him down so. There was not very much 
science about it, but the " Gippos " seemed to enjoy 
the fun immensely, and came up smiling time after 
time. Leap-frog was another item on the card, and 
the Egyptians ran about like a lot of boys just let 
out of school I had no idea there was so much 
fun in them. At last we turned into the hammocks 
provided for us, and slept in the blissful consciousness 
of approaching comforts. The half-battalion of Cold- 
stream and Marines had been sent off in the afternoon 
to Ambigol Wells and Railhead, twelve miles ahead, 
so as to get into the train first thing in the morning, 
and we were to follow them at about twelve hours 
interval. 

Accordingly next morning at 4 a.m. we started, 
and, arriving at Railhead about ten, we welcomed the 



IN THE TRAIN. 



299 



sight of a real train with effusive joy. Gangs of Indian 
coolies were laying the track, and we thought our- 
selves back in the heart of civilisation. We were 
to go by train to Wady Haifa, some fifty miles on, 
and there we ought to have arrived about 6 p.m. 
or so. However, a " scratch " railway in the middle 
of the desert is not quite the same as an English 
one, and at six we found ourselves not half-way, 
at Ambigol Road. Here we met a lot of hospitable 
Transport and other officers, nearly all of whom we 
knew. During an excellent tea of cake and drinks 
we exchanged ideas, but there was not much of im- 
portance going on, except the sending of troops down 
the river " hard all." Amongst other items of news 
we were told that Townshend of the Marines, who 
had been sent down from Dongola with enteric fever, 
had become much worse at Wady Haifa, and was 
dead. The sad news gave us all a tremendous shock. 
He was going on favourably when we had heard 
of him last, and we proceeded to feel dismal about 
it. Luckily the report turned out to be unfounded, 
but this we did not hear till we got to Wady Haifa. 



300 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

It was far into the night when we arrived, and 
most of us were pretty cramped by that time eight 
of us in a tiny guard's van for seven hours was rather 
a tight fit, especially as there were no seats ; but that 
was quite a detail. Our attention had been taken 
off the squash by the heavenly feeling of being in 
a real live train again! It was a distinctly bumpy 
train, both in its mode of progress and the number 
of knots in the floor ; but it was lovely all the same. 
The feeling of skimming along over stony tracks 
it had taken hours, even days, to plod over on camel- 
back, really brought home to us the blessings of 
civilisation in a solid form. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

Down the river in dahabiehs Korosko Assouan Edfou Assiut 
Cairo A disappointment Alexandria Home. 

ON arriving at Wady Haifa we found a couple of 
dahabiehs awaiting us, and orders to start next 
morning ; so we got out of the train and went on 
board for the night. On the following day we got 
parcels upon parcels of clothes, tinned meats, games, 
and every sort of thing that had been sent out to us 
and stuck on the way. Up-stream these articles would 
have been most useful ; as it was, they only added 

to our baggage. H and I wandered about on 

shore, and we had breakfast at a restaurant. Fried 
potatoes! white table-cloth! china cups and saucers! 
it almost took away our breath the magnificence of the 
surroundings. I then went to see poor Townshend in 
hospital, and after some time was admitted. I never 
saw such a change. Although he was certainly not 



302 



WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 



looking fit on leaving Dongola, I had no idea he 
would be so altered so weak he couldn't sit up, so 
thin you could almost see through him, and his com- 
plexion a ghastly dark blue. His grave had already 
been dug for him ; but he happened to hear of this 
interesting fact and vowed he wouldn't fill it, and he 
'didn't. He gradually mended, and is at this moment 
in one of the crack native Indian Cavalry Regiments. 

Eventually we got off in our dahabiehs, being 
tugged down stream by a steamer ; but we didn't get 
far. Two hours after starting the big dahabieh stuck 
on a sand-bar, and no efforts on our part could get 
her off again. So there we lay all night, and next 
morning sent our steamer back for a dahabieh which 
would draw less water. As our boat drew seven feet, 
and most of the sand-banks were only four feet below 
water, it is not surprising that we stuck. It was tire- 
some being stopped like this, for the 75th Gordon 
Highlanders were close behind, and, as there were 
very few steamers to take all the troops down, it was 
a case of first come first served. 

For the next fortnight we bumped down-stream, 



LIFE ON DAHABIEHS. 



33 



often aground and hardly ever two nights running 
on the same boat. Sometimes they shifted us on 
to steamers, at other times we were jammed up in 
small dahabiehs, but the method of proceeding was 
pleasant and not fatiguing. For want of something 
better to do we took to shaving off our beards, and 
one after another apparent stranger came up from 
below minus the chin-covering that had graced (?) his 
face for the last nine months. It is extraordinary how 
a beard alters the whole face. Parke, our doctor who 
replaced Magill, we had never seen clean-shaved, and 
when I had helped him to carve the hair off, I literally 
iad to introduce him to the others. They thought he 
ras an intruder of some sort. 

Occasionally, in fact very often, one of the boats 
stuck, and then everybody, stripped to his helmet, 
waded out and hauled away till something happened, 
either the rope broke or the boat moved. The pilots 
seemed to be trying how many sand-banks they could 
run us on to in a given time ; hardly a day passed 
without our striking on something. 

Towards sunset every evening the dahabiehs or 



304 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

steamers anchored, as it was impossible to pilot in the 
dark, and then was the time for a beautiful swim. The 
Arab sailors used to climb on to the paddle-box with 
their patches of carpet, turn their faces to the East 
and say their prayers, and it gave me extreme pleasure 
to take a header off the paddle-box just in front of 
them. They got awfully annoyed at a dog of a 
Christian getting between them and Mecca, as they 
had to begin their prayers all over again, and at 
last they took to cursing me in the most approved 
style ; but it apparently had no effect. 

The first important place we touched at was 
Korosko, where the 79th (Cameronian) Highlanders. 
were quartered. It seemed a regular sun- trap to 
live in. High rocks on all sides and hardly a scrap 
of vegetation anywhere. The desert road (225 miles) 
to Abu Hamed starts from this point, and that 
was I suppose the reason for having a regiment 
there. There was not the slightest chance of being 
attacked that way ; but still important information 
came sometimes across that fearful desert, one of 
the worst in the Soudan ; so it was necessary to- 
intercept it. 



TO CAIRO. 



305 



Assouan was reached on the igth June; but, 
although we stayed there a couple of days, there 
was nothing worthy of note. Four days more 
brought us to Edfou, a lovely temple with vast stones 
for a roof don't know how the Ancient Egyptians 
got them there saw it by moonlight and two days 
more to Luxor. Here we stopped for a day, and 
went to see all the ruins ; these I won't try to 
describe, as " Murray " knows a good deal more 
about them than I do. 

At last, on the 29th, we got to Assiut, the head of 

the railway from Cairo, and on the following afternoon 

were entrained for Alexandria. We were not to halt 

it Cairo for long, but only to stay for breakfast, and 

;hen push on as fast as possible for Alexandria. 

The train reached the Boulak Dacrour station 
[Cairo) at about nine, and there we found a sumptuous 
>reakfast prepared for us. Every sort of good thing 
/as provided, down to real ice for everybody. This 
ist was a great luxury, for we had naturally seen 
lone since the previous October. I believe, as a matter 
>f fact, one block of ice used to be sent up weekly 



3o6 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

to Dongola from Alexandria, for the use of the 
patients in hospital ; but, as may be imagined, it 
was rarely bigger than a walnut when it arrived ; 
generally there was only past evidence of it in the 
shape of damp sawdust. 

It is curious how you can do without the every- 
day luxuries of a hot climate when you haven't got 
them. We used to swallow all our liquids lukewarm 
up the Nile and never thought of cooling them. Tepid 
water, very slightly cooled in chatties, was the order of 
the day, and nobody dreamt of grumbling about it. 
Once, at Dongola, we got hold of some champagne, 
so, to keep up the civilised custom of drinking it cold, 
we hung it in the sun in a wet sock all day, and really 
the coldness of it gave me quite a shock I'd got so 
used to tepid drinks. I verily believe a lot of the 
sickness at Suakim was owing to the ease with which 
you could procure ice there at all times of the day. 
However, to return. 

On the platform was the whole Head-quarter Staff, 
including Lord Wolseley and General Stephenson, and 
one or two real English ladies, and delighted we werel 



THE MEDAL QUESTION. 307 

to see them all. One great disappointment we suffered 
lere, and that was to hear that there was to be no 
separate medal for the Nile expedition nothing 
beyond the old blue and white Egyptian thing with 
one clasp for the whole expedition, another for the 
desert column, and another for the river column, so 
those who had already the medal were to have only two 
clasps for the whole thing ! We had had faint hopes 
that they might possibly give us a star (like that given 
to the troops in the Candahar march) for the desert 
fighting, but were not prepared for the crushing news 
that we were not even to have a distinct decoration 
of any sort. It seemed rather curious to wear the 
old medal with the sphinx and " Egypt " on it for work 
not done within hundreds of miles of Egypt, for Egypt 
stops at Wady Haifa ! However, there was no help 
for it. I heard more than one man say when he heard 
the news, " Blow me then if I ever volunteer again for 
this sort of business," and several re-echoed his 
opinions. This is a sore subject, so I'll drop it. 

The entertainment at Boulak Dacrour did not last 
long, and within the hour we were steaming away for 



X 2 



3o8 WITH THE CAMEL CORPS UP THE NILE. 

Alexandria. Luckily the railway arrangements were 
in a fitter state than when we were on the way up 
country, and we arrived within sight of the deep blue 
sea by four o'clock. The orders were to go on board 
the Australia (P. & O.) at once; but we were not 
to start for England for another three or four days, 
as various arrangements were pending. 

The first thing we found on the quay was 
the brigade of Guards that had just come from 
Suakim, and had put in to Alexandria on the way 
to Cyprus, and very glad we were to see them all 
again, though some were utterly unrecognisable at 
first in beards. They were all in a disgusted state, 
first at being sent to Cyprus for an unlimited time, 
and secondly at being sent to dawdle at Alexandria on 
the way ; however, we cheered them up, and for the 
next five days had a very pleasant time of it in 
the town. At last came definite orders to start, and 
on the 4th July we left Alexandria and the shores 
of Egypt for good. 



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312 APPENDIX I. 

4. MOUNTED INFANTRY CAMEL REGIMENT. 

Staff. 

Major Hon. G. H. Gough (w), i4th Hussars, in command. 
Captain J. H. Sewell, Norfolk Regiment (9th)/ Adjutant. 
Lieut. R. A. Grant, Gordon Highlanders, Acting Quartermaster. 

(Major C. T. Barrow, Scottish Rifles (26th & 9oth). 

^Captain T. H. Phipps (D), 7th Hussars. 

A Company. 
Captain C. H. Payne, Gordon Highlanders, commanding. 

N.C.O. PTES. FORMERLY 

South Stafford- ^ 

Lieut. C. O. Hore ... 5...2...38th& Both. 

shire Regt. J 

Black Watch ... C. P. Livingstone (w) 5... 25... 42nd 73rd. 

Gordon High- ^ 

H.K.Stewart ... 5. ..25. ..75th Q2nd. 
landers ... ) 

King's Royal ") P. S. Marling, V.C.^i 

Rtfe Corps J R. L. Bower }~*~ 

B Company. 
Captain H. A. Walsh, Somerset Light Infantry, commanding. 

N.C.O. PTES. FORMERLY 

West Kent Rgt... Captain A. T. Morse ... 5...25...5oth & 97th. 
Sussex Regt. ... Lieut. F. G. Todd Thornton 5... 2 5... 35111 io7th. 
Essex ... R. J. Tudway ... 5. ..25. ..44th 56th. 

Duke of Cornwall's^ 

\ n C. G. Martyr ... 5. ..25. ..32nd 46th. 
Light Infantry J 



APPENDIX I. 



313 



C Company (Rifle Company). 
Captain R. S. Fetherstonhaugh, K.R.R. Corps, commanding. 

N.C.O. PRIVATES. FORMERLY 

K.R.R. Corps. Lieut. A. E. Miles (w) ... 5 ... 25 6oth. 

K.R.R. Corps. W.P.Campbell ... 5 ... 25 6oth. 

Rifle Brigade Hon. H. C.Hardinge 5 ... 25 Rifle Brigade. 

Rifle Brigade W. M. Sherston ... 5 ... 25 Rifle Brigade. 

" D Company. 
Captain C. B. Pigott, 2ist Hussars, commanding. 

N.C.O. PTES. FORMERLY 

Somerset Light Infantry. Lieut. T. Snow (w) 5... 2 5 i3th. 
West Kent Regiment ... E. A.Alderson 5... 25 5oth & gytru 
Connaught Rangers ... C. J. Garden 5... 2 5 88th & 94th. 
Royal Scots Fusiliers ... H. S. Stanuell 5... 25 2ist. 
A proportion of buglers is included in the above details. 



TOTAL. 
Heavy Camel Regiment 

Light 

Guards 

Mounted Infantry Camel Regiment ... 

Grand Total 



OFFS. 
24 

21 

2 3 
26 



94 



N.C.O. MEN, 
43 , 

' 387 
.. 403 
.. 480 



1700 



APPENDIX II. 

CAMEL EQUIPMENT. 




(Offside.) 

A. Zuleetahs (red leather and white canvas). 

B. Saddle-cover (red leather). 

C. Rolled blankets and tente d'abri. 

D. Namaqua rifle-bucket (brown leather), with strap to fasten on 

the near side. 

E. Water-skin (dark brown), resting on a yellow leather flap. 

F. 15 Ib. bag of corn. 
GG. Girths. 

H. Stirrup. 

JJ. Protecting flaps of red leather. 

K. Small red cushion use doubtful. 

The near side is very similar, the roll corresponding to C 
consisting of the great-coat and waterproof sheet, whilst the mussek 
(long Egyptian water-bottle) hangs in the place corresponding to 
that occupied by the rifle-bucket. 

The girths are separate from the saddle, and pass over the frame- 
work. At one end of the girth is an iron ring, at the other a strip 
of leather. Each is simply fastened by knotting the strip of leather 
on to the iron ring on one side of the camel. 

The stirrup-leather is either nailed on or hung round one of the 
bars of the framework. 



APPENDIX III. 

{Civilians are warned off.) 

CAMEL DRILL. 

Regiments will form up mounted one camel's length from front 
to rear rank. Men fall in with advanced arms. Companies told off 
as follows : 

Number , left of right half company. 
Numbers , , , , left of sections. 
Right half company, trail arms ; left half company, trail arms. 
Outer sections, advance arms ; inner sections, advance arms. 
(Sections right wheel, if further proving is necessary.) 
The movements executed by Infantry by fours will be done by 
sections. When movements are not feasible by sections they will 
be done by files (front and rear rank men abreast) or by single file. 

As a rule, when mounted, march in half-distance column ; when 
about to dismount, if in column, the word "close order" will be 
given ; close on the leading company as close as possible. 

POSITIONS FOR DEFENCE. 

On the word " dismount " the column will dismount, and, leaving 
the camels double knee-lashed, will form up in half-column* in the 
following positions, according to the word of command. Flanking 
squares can thus be formed : 

Position i. Half-column to right front. 
,, 2. ,, ,, leit ,, 
3. ,, right rear. 

4- }> left ?> 

5. right front and left rear. 

6. left and right 

7. Square round camels. 

* " Half-column '' means column of companies at half-company distance, and 
not half a column. 



3*6 APPENDIX III. 

Positions i, 2, 3, 4, will be taken up as follows : 
Half-column formed on the right flank will be in column by the left. 

>, left right 

Half-column to the right or left front will be formed on the markers 

of the rear company. 
Half-column to the right or left rear will be formed on the markers of 

the front company. 
The officer who places the marker upon whom the other markers 

cover, will take care that the half-column is as near as possible to 

the camels, the faces of the square (when formed) in every case 

being at the same time clear of the camels. 

Positions 5 and 6 : 

Half-column at opposite angles will be similarly formed, and if the 
battalion consists of eight companies the leading half-battalion 
will form the front square, and the rear half-battalion the rear 
square. 

In positions 5 and 6, when the battalion is composed of four com- 
panies, column of half-companies should be formed at either 
point, and not half-column of companies. 
In all cases when the regiment is dismounted, a certain number of 

men will be left among the camels. 

(a). When it is not intended that the half-column shall move 
from the camels two men will suffice as guard. 

(b}. When it is intended that they move from the camels, and 
if there is a co-operating body affording protection to the camels, 
two mea per company will be left, but in this case the guard will have 
an officer. 

(c). When the column is to move away, and there is no co- 
operating body of troops, an officer's guard of a quarter the force will 
remain ; its first duty will be to see that the camels are well secured.. 



APPENDIX III. 317 

Position 7. Square round the camels. 
The leading company forms up in front of the centre of its camels, 

and the rear company in rear of the centre of its camels. 
The odd companies (3, 5, and 7), will form up on the right flank of 

the camels. 

The even companies (2, 4, and 6), on the left flank. 
The companies on the right and left flanks will regard themselves as 

shifting bodies, intended, in addition to protecting the flanks, to 

join the companies on the front and rear faces. 

[Thus, suppose the commanding officer to give the word, " Half- 
column on the left front," when the battalion of four companies is 
moving (on camel-back) in column of companies. The command 
immediately follows, " Close order." The leading company halts at 
once, the rear rank jams up close, and all the other companies trot 
up " hard all." When well jammed up against the company in front 
of them, the men dismount amidst a diabolical bellowing and grunt- 
ing from their steeds, and double-knee-lash them with the head-rope. 
You then have all the camels in a square mass, unable to get up or 
move about. The right markers of companies having handed over 
their camels to be lashed by one of the two men ordered to remain 
with the beasts of each company, dash out, and are covered at half- 
company distance from the rear, the men running out and forming 
up on them at once ; they are then ready for forming square or 
other manoeuvre. The same holds good for the other three corners, 
the directing flank always being nearest the camels. If the word is 
given, "Square on left front," the men run out to their places in 
-square at once. For squares at opposite corners, four half- 
companies run to each place mentioned. When the battalion is 
required to manoeuvre away from the camels, one company or less is 
left to defend them. In the case of two or more battalions the masses 
are formed in the same way in echelon, so as to cover each other.] 



318 APPENDIX IV. 

OTHER FORMATIONS. 

Should the regiment be ordered to dismount when in line, the 
rear rank will close on the front rank before dismounting. 

In quarter column when mounted, the distance between companies 
will be six camels' lengths (instead of six paces). Quarter 
columns will not be used when the front of the sections exceeds 
six camels' lengths. 

Brigade drill will follow the above principles ; in line formations 
twelve camels' lengths will be the interval between regiments. 

In battalion and brigade drills when mounted, " right and left 
shoulders " will be used. 



APPENDIX IV. 

TOTAL NUMBERS OF KILLED AND WOUNDED IN THE 
DESERT COLUMN. 

WOUNDED. 

OFFICERS. MEN. 

.. 9 ... 106- 

.. 9 ... 82 

.. i ... n 

.. i ... 2 

3 25 

.. 23 ... 243. 
* Bes : des the two War Correspondents. 



KILLED. 


OFFICERS. MEN. 


Abu Klea, i7th January ... 


... 


ii 


... 77 


Abu Kru, 1 9th 




3* 


... 29 


Metemmeh, 2ist ,, 


... 





i 


Between Gubat and Khartoum 





i 


Attack on Wounded Convoy, 
February 


i 3 thj 





3 


Attack on Abu Klea Camp, 
February 


i 7 trn 





4 


Total 




14 


H5 



APPENDIX V. 



LOSSES OF THREE CAMEL REGIMENTS IN THE CAMPAIGN, 



i. HEAVY CAMEL REGIMENT : 



OFFICERS. 


MEN. 


TOTAL 


L0< 




KD. 


WD. 


DIED. 


KD. 


WD. 


DIED. 


OFFS. 


ME 


ist Life Guards 





O 


... 


2 





2 


... 


4 


2nd 





I 


... 


2 





3 


... O 


5 


Blues 


O 


I 


... 


I 


4 


4 


... O 


5 


2nd Dragoon Guards 


O 





O ... 


5 


I 


2 


... O 


7 


4th 


2 


O 


O ... 


7 


5 


I 


... 2 


8 


5th 


I 





... 


10 


7 


I 


... I 


ii 


ist Dragoons 


I 





O ... 


12 


4 


3 


... I 


J 5 


2nd 


I 


O 


O ... 


II 


5 


4 


... I 


15 


5th Lancers 


I 


I 


I ... 


5 


4 


5 


... 2 


10 


i6th 


I 


O 


I ... 


4 


i 


3 


... 2 


7 



Total .. 



59 3 1 28 



9 87 



320 



APPENDIX V. 



2. GUARDS' CAMEL REGIMENT : 



OFFICERS. 


MEN. 


TOTAL 


I.O 




KD. 


WD. 


DIED. 


KD. 


WD. 


DIED. 


OFFS. 


ME 


ist Grenadiers 








... 


2 


5 


I .. 


. O 


3 


2nd 








O ... 


I 


I 


3 


. 


4 


3 f d 





o 


... 


I 


4 


2 .. 


. 


3 


ist Coldstream 





o 


O .. 


3 


2 


5 


. 


8 


2nd 





I 


O ... 


4 


7 


i .. 


. 


5 


ist Scots 





I 


... 


3 


2 


2 .. 


. 


5 


2nd 


o 





... 


3 


5 


2 .. 


. O 


5 


Marines 





I 


... 


9 


12 


7 


. 


16 



Total.. 



26 38 23 



49 



3. MOUNTED INFANTRY 
CAMEL REGIMENT J 



OFFICERS. MEN. TOTAL LOSS. 

KD. WD. DIED. KD. WD. DIED. OFFS. MEN. 

5 i ...ii 67 (?) ... i (?) 



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THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. With Illustrations 

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OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. With Forty Illustrations by Marcus 

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Cloth, i is. 

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Cloth, i is. 

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;i is. 

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the other volumes, i is. 

BARNABY RUDGE : a Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty. With 

Seventy-eight Illustrations by George Cattermole and H. K. Browne. Uniform with 
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CHRISTMAS BOOKS : Containing The Christmas Carol ; 

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With all the original Illustrations. Cloth, 125. 

OLIVER TWIST and TALE OF TWO CITIES, in one 

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OLIVER TWIST. Separately. With Twenty-four Illustrations 

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A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Separately. With Sixteen Illus- 

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NICHOLAS NICKLEBY 39 2 vols. 16 o 

MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT 40 2 vols. 16 c 

OLD CURIOSITY SHOP & REPRINTED PIECES 36 2 vols. 16 c 

BARN ABY RUDGE and HARD TIMES 36 2 vols. 16 o 

BLEAK HOUSE 40 2 vols. 16 o 

LITTLE DORRIT 40 ,, 2 vols. 16 o 

DOMBEY AND SON ... 38 ,, 2 vols. 16 o 

DAVID COPPERFIELD 38 2 vols. 16 o 

OUR MUTUAL FRIEND 40 ,, 2 vols. 16 o 

SKETCHES BY " BOZ " 39 i vol. 8 o 

OLIVER TWIST 24 i vol. 8 o 

CHRISTMAS BOOKS 17 ,, i vol. 8 c 

A TALE OF TWO CITIES 16 ,, i vol. 8 o 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS 8 i vol. 8 o 

PICTURES FROM ITALY & AMERICAN NOTES 8 ,, i vol. 8 o 

UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER 8 ,, i vol. 8 o 

CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND 8 i vol. 8 o 

EDWIN DROOD and MISCELLANIES 12 i vol. 8 c 

CHRISTMAS STORIES from "Household Words," &c. 14 ,, i vol. 8 o 

THE LIFE OF CHARLES DICKENS. By JOHN FORSTER. With Illustrations. 
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THE "CHARLES DICKENS" EDITION. 

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s. d. 

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MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT 8 ... 4 o 

DOMBEY AND SON 8 4 o 

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY 8 ,, ... 4 o 

DAVID COPPERFIELD 8 ... 4 o 

BLEAK HOUSE 8 4 o 

LITTLE DORRIT 8 4 o 

OUR MUTUAL FRIEND 8 ... 4 o 

BARNABY RUDGE 8 ... 3 6 

OLD CURIOSITY SHOP 8 ... 3 6 

A CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND 4 ... 3 6 

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CHRISTMAS STORIES, from "Household Words" ... 8 ...3 6 

SKETCHES BY "BOZ" 8 ... 3 6 

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OLIVER TWIST 8 3 6 

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UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER 4 ,, ... 3 o 

THE LIFE OF CHARLES DICKENS. Numerous Illustrations. 2 vols. 7 o 

THE LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS ...2 vols. 8 o 



34 BOOKS PUBLISHED Bl' 



DICKENS'S (CHARLES) WORKS. Continued. 

THE ILLUSTRATED LIBRARY EDITION. 
(WITH LIFE.) 

Complete in 32 Volumes. Demy 8vo, zos. each ; or set, jTid. 

This Edition is printed on a finer paper and in a larger type than has been 
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No such attractive issue has been made of the writings of Mr. Dickens, which, 
various as have been the forms of publication adapted to the demands of an ever 
widely-increasing popularity, have never yet been worthily presented in a really 
handsome library form. 

The collection comprises all the minor writings it was Mr. Dickens's wish to 
preserve. 

SKETCHES BY " BOZ." With 40 Illustrations by George Cruikshank. 
PICKWICK PAPERS. 2 vols. With 42 Illustrations by Phiz. 
OLIVER TWIST. With 24 Illustrations by Cruikshank. 
NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz. 
OLD CURIOSITY SHOP and REPRINTED PIECES. 2 vols. With Illus- 
trations by Cattermole, &c. 
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Cattermole, &c. 

MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz. 
AMERICAN NOTES and PICTURES FROM ITALY. i vol. With 

8 Illustrations. 

DOMBEY AND SON. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz. 
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz. 
BLEAK HOUSE. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz. 
LITTLE DORRIT. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Phiz. 
A TALE OF TWO CITIES. With 16 Illustrations by Phiz. 
THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. With 8 Illustrations by Marcus Stone. 
GREAT EXPECTATIONS. With 8 Illustrations by Marcus Stone. 
OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. 2 vols. With 40 Illustrations by Marcus Stone. 
CHRISTMAS BOOKS. With 17 Illustrations by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., 

Maclise, R.A., &c. &c. 

HISTORY OF ENGLAND. With 8 Illustrations by Marcus Stone. 
CHRISTMAS STORIES. (From "Household Words" and "All the Year 

Round.") With 14 Illustrations. 
EDWIN DROOD AND OTHER STORIES With 12 Illustrations by 

S. L. Fildes. 
LIFE OF CHARLES DICKENS. By John Forster. With Portraits. 2 vols. 

(not separate.) 



CHAPMAN & HALL, LIMITED. 



35 



DICKENS'S (CHARLES) WORKS. Continued. 

THE POPULAR LIBRARY EDITION 

OF THE WORKS OF 

CHARLES DICKENS, 

In 30 Vols. , large crown 8vo, price 6 y separate Vols. 4-f . each. 



An Edition printed on good paper, each volume containing 1 6 full-page 
Illustrations, selected from the Household Edition, on Plate Paper. 

SKETCHES BY "BOZ." 

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OLIVER TWIST. 

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. 2 vols. 

MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 2 vols. 

DOMBEY AND SON. 2 vols, 

DAVID COPPERFIELD. 2 vols. 

CHRISTMAS BOOKS. 

OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. 2 vols. 

CHRISTMAS STORIES. 

BLEAK HOUSE. 2 vols. 

LITTLE DORRIT. 2 vols. 

OLD CURIOSITY SHOP AND REPRINTED PIECES. 2 vols. 

BARNABY RUDGE. 2 vols. 

UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS. 

TALE OF TWO CITIES. 

CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 

EDWIN DROOD AND MISCELLANIES. 

PICTURES FROM ITALY AND AMERICAN NOTES. 



36 BOOKS PUBLISHED BY 



DICKENS'S (CHARLES) WORKS. Continued. 
HOUSEHOLD EDITION. 

/// 22 Volumes. Crown 4/0, cloth, ^4 8j. 6d. 

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DAVID COPPERFIELD, with 60 Illustrations and a Portrait, cloth, 53. 

BLEAK HOUSE, with 61 Illustrations, cloth, 55. 

LITTLE DORRIT, with 58 Illustrations, cloth, 55. 

PICKWICK PAPERS, with 56 Illustrations, cloth, 55. 

OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, with 58 Illustrations, cloth, 53. 

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, with 59 Illustrations, cloth, 5 s. 

DOMBEY AND SON, with 61 Illustrations, cloth, 55. 

EDWIN DROOD ; REPRINTED PIECES ; and other Stories, with 30 lllustra- 
tions, cloth, 55. 

THE LIFE OF DICKENS. BY JOHN FORSTER. With 40 Illustrations. Cloth, 55. 

BARNABY RUDGE, with 46 Illustrations, cloth, 45. 

OLD CURIOSITY SHOP, with 32 Illustrations, cloth, 45. 

CHRISTMAS STORIES, with 23 Illustrations, cloth, 45. 

OLIVER TWIST, with 28 Illustrations, cloth, 33. 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS, with 26 Illustrations, cloth, 35. 

SKETCHES BY " BOZ," with 36 Illustrations, cloth, 35. 

UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER, with 26 Illustrations, cloth, 33. 

CHRISTMAS BOOKS, with 28 Illustrations, cloth, 3 s. 

THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND, with 15 Illustrations, cloth, 33. 

AMERICAN NOTES and PICTURES FROM ITALY, with iB Illustrations 
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A TALE OF TWO CITIES, with 25 Illustrations, cloth, 35. 
HARD TIMES, with 20 Illustrations, cloth, 25. 6d. 



CHAPMAN fr HALL, LIMITED. 37 



DICKENS'S (CHARLES) WORKS. Continued. 



THE CABINET EDITION. 

Now Publishing. 

To be completed in 30 vols. small fcap. 8vo, Marble Paper Sides, Cloth 
Backs, with uncut edges, price Eighteenpence each. 

A Complete Work will be Published every Month, and each Volume will 
contain Eight Illustrations reproduced from the Originals. 

CHRISTMAS BOOKS. 

MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT, Two Vols. 

DAVID COPPERFIELD, Two Vols. 

OLIVER TWIST. 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS. 

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, Two Vols. 

SKETCHES BY " BOZ." 

CHRISTMAS STORIES. 

THE PICKWICK PAPERS, Two Vols. 

BARNABY RUDGE, Two Vols. 

BLEAK HOUSE, Two Vols. 

AMERICAN NOTES AND PICTURES FROM ITALY. 

EDWIN DROOD; AND OTHER STORIES. 

THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP, Two Vols. 

A CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 

DOMBEY AND SON, Two Vols. 

A TALE OF TWO CITIES. 

LITTLE DORRIT, Two Vols. 

MUTUAL FRIEND, Two Vols. 

To be followed by 

UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 
HARD TIMES. 
REPRINTED PIECES. 



38 BOOKS PUBLISHED BY 



DICKENS'S (CHARLES) WORKS. Continued. 
MR. DICKENS'S READINGS 

Fcap. &vo, sewed. 

CHRISTMAS CAROL IN PROSE, is. 
CRICKET ON THE HEARTH, is. 
CHIMES: A GOBLIN STORY, is. 
STORY OF LITTLE DOMBEY. is. 

POOR TRAVELLER, BOOTS AT THE HOLLY-TREE 
INN, and MRS. GAMP. is. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL, with the Original Coloured Plates. 

Being a reprint of the Original Edition. With red border lines. Small 8vo, 
red cloth, gilt edges, 55. 

CHARLES DICKENS'S CHRISTMAS BOOKS. 

REPRINTED FROM THE ORIGINAL PLATES. 

Illustrated by JOHN LEECH, D. MACLISE, R.A., R. DOYLE, 
C. STANFIELD, R.A., &c. 

Fcap. cloth, is. each. Complete in a case, js. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL IN PROSE. 

THE CHIMES : A Goblin Story. 

THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH : A Fairy Tale of 

Home. 

THE BATTLE OF LIFE. A Love Story. 

THE HAUNTED MAN AND THE GHOST'S STORY. 



SIXPENNY REPRINTS. 

READINGS FROM THE WORKS OF 
CHARLES DICKENS. 

As selected and read by himself and now published for the first time. Illustrated. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, AND THE HAUNTED MAN. 

By CHARLES DICKENS. Illustrated. 
THE CHIMES: A GOBLIN STORY, AND THE CRICKET 

ON THE HEARTH. Illustrated. 

THE BATTLE OF LIFE: A LOVE STORY, HUNTED 
DOWN, AND A HOLIDAY ROMANCE. Illustrated. 

The last Three Volumes as Christmas Works, 
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